When President Trump took office in January, he and his team faced many of the challenges any new executive encounters. In the campaign/interview process and during the transition, there’s a lot of due diligence that results in a number of lists: what to do, what to learn, what resources to identify and utilize, and who to hire for vacant senior positions. Part of Trump’s focus has been on issuing executive orders and presidential memorandums. In the 134 days between January 20th and May 15th, according to a compilation on Wikipedia, he has issued 36 executive orders and 25 presidential memoranda, an average of one almost every two days. In addition, Trump has issued 42 ceremonial proclamations, one determination, and six notices to date.
But what happens in the aftermath of such orders? Two orders, both on immigration, have been stopped legally, and some may simply linger in bureaucratic limbo until they suddenly come back full force or die an obscure death. What’s an activist to do to track such stuff?
What many people don’t realize is that about half of Trump’s executive orders and presidential memoranda include directives for cabinet members and executive branch agencies to research, assess, and report on a wide variety of topics within specified timelines. Most of the timelines are expressed in terms of days from the date of issuance, with the most typical deadlines being either 90 days or 180 days. However, there have been deadlines as short as 20 days and as long as one year.
Lest you think the number of such orders is anomalous, President Obama issued 644 memoranda and 275 executive orders during eight years in office, with 30 actions and 29 orders issued within the previous administration’s first 134 days.
Compiling the list of Trump’s action items and due dates was made much easier because all “Presidential actions” are documented on the official White House website in reverse chronological order. The list is presented here in chronological order, with the title of the executive order or presidential action hyperlinked to the original text on www.whitehouse.gov. Many of the entries reference one or two reports that are due, but a couple have many assignments to be completed. The executive order on cyberthreats has the largest “to-do” list, with 15 reports, strategy development, assessments, and other actions prescribed in a single document.
One big question mark accompanies the March 6th executive order imposing the temporary travel ban affecting six Muslim majority countries in the Middle East. This order replaces the initial order issued January 27th and blocked by the federal courts. The March 6th version is also being litigated at present, and there has been a stay issued. However, it’s unclear whether the stay would include report and strategy generation as well as the sections implementing the temporary travel ban and the immigration ban affecting Syria. For the sake of completeness, we have included both the original executive order and the March 6th replacement in the list, realizing that the actions ordered in the January 27th order are superseded by the later executive order.
None of the items are easy in an absolute sense. Nothing easy should ever reach the president’s desk—that’s one reason we have the rest of the government. Some, however, are easier than others, such as ordering the final permitting determination on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days of TransCanada’s renewed application to build the oil pipeline. That order is the only one we can definitively say has been completed.
In March, NPQ wrote about one executive order that is a classic “easier said than done” exercise. By September 13, 2017, “a proposed plan to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies” is due on the president’s desk. Six months (180 days) hardly seems like enough time; then again, the order is to produce a plan, not to complete the implementation of the plan.
The “President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis” may not meet its intended June 29th 90-day deadline for issuing an initial report. Chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, it’s not clear when the commission’s membership was named and how the commission’s work is progressing.
The April 25th executive order titled “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America” is intriguing because critics say it will accomplish the opposite of its intended goals in some key areas. It is allegedly tied to efforts to replace a Senate-confirmed undersecretary position at the U.S. Agriculture Department with a presidentially appointed special assistant to deal with rural affairs. Without the prospect of Senate confirmation, the special assistant could be a junior political appointee with few or no qualifications for the position and no real influence within the government.
We encourage you to review the list, read the documents that interest you, and think about how the actions may affect you, your organization, and the causes you care about. Then, consider any actions you may wish to take. Remember to check the list on the White House website periodically, as there are sure to be more entries posted frequently.
Trump Administration Presidential Actions Requiring Agency Follow-up
Inauguration Day 2017 – May 15, 2017
Executive Order/Presidential Memorandum
Report/Action Due Date
|Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze||January 23, 2017||A long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal government’s workforce through attrition.||April 23, 2017|
|Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline||January 24, 2017||A final permitting determination, including a final de|