Trump, like Obama, signs flurry of first week executive actions

Trump, like Obama, signs flurry of first week executive actions
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President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE's first week in office has been marked by a series of significant executive actions as he looks to start in on some of his key priorities. 

Presidents have a handful of tools to push through policy without waiting on Congress—including executive orders and the less formal process of presidential memoranda. Both allow the president to direct executive agencies on how he wants them to enforce existing law. 

Trump’s pace of six orders and eight memoranda in his first seven days puts him roughly on pace with former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama: Fox News viewers 'perceive a different reality' than other Americans Police investigating death of TV anchor who uncovered Clinton tarmac meeting as suicide Ending the same-sex marriage wars MORE’s first week in office. But Trump and Obama both dwarfed other recent presidents in their use of executive actions early in their term.


Here’s a look at how many actions each of the last five presidents made during their first week in office, according to data compiled from White House archives and the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  


Donald Trump— 5 Executive Orders, 9 Presidential Memoranda

Trump used executive actions during his first week in the White House to start fulfilling campaign promises. 

Trump’s first moves were lifted right from his presidential bid: an order calling for agencies to minimize the “burden” of ObamaCare ahead of the impending repeal, along with a memorandum freezing all new government regulations.

On Monday, Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and announced a federal hiring freeze.  

The same day, he announced the institution of an expanded version of the Mexico City policy, a Reagan-era rule suspended by Democratic presidents that forbids federal money from going to foreign nonprofits that receive perform or support abortions outside of America. 

Remember this one, since every president has changed America’s stance on this anti-abortion policy when their party retakes the White House.  

Later this week, Trump instituted measures dealing with pipelines and manufacturing: ordering pipelines to use as much American-made material as possible, reauthorizing the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines and calling for expedited reviews for companies looking to build new factories.  

Trump’s next two executive orders dealt with other major campaign promises—starting the construction of a wall on the Mexican border and another that laid out policies on deportations. 

He closed out his first week with two Friday actions. One order banned immigration from Syria while pausing all refugee admissions while a memorandum called for a rebuilding of the military. 


Barack Obama—6 Executive Orders, 9 Presidential Memoranda

Obama signed several executive actions in his first seven days, a departure from the slower first-week paces of presidents immediately before him. 

Those actions mostly centered on a few major themes—increasing transparency, softening detention policies and promoting a more liberal environmental policy. All of these matched with key Obama campaign planks. 

Obama laid out an ethics plan that instituted lobbyist gift bans and placed limits on lobbyists entering government or appointees leaving it. He also issued a broad memo calling for government transparency, greased the wheels for more disclosures of presidential records by repealing a more restrictive George W. Bush orderand called on agencies to adopt “a presumption in favor of disclosure” for Freedom of Information Act requests.  

Obama also called for reviews of detention policies, ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center and ended the use of enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. 

On energy, Obama issued three environmental orders. They included increasing fuel economy standards and granting California a waiver to enact tougher emission restrictions.  

Obama signed three other orders—one reversing the Mexico City Policy in favor of abortion rights, one freezing senior executive branch pay and a third that allocated funding for Palestinian refugees. 


George W. Bush—0 Executive Orders, 2 Presidential Memoranda

Bush is the only one of the last five presidents not to issue any executive orders in his first week in office—his first executive orders came on his ninth day in office, creating the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

But both of the memoranda Bush signed in his first week in office were substantial. The first reinstated the Mexico City policy, while a second limited executive branch hiring. 


Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMonica Lewinsky signs production deal with 20th TV Police investigating death of TV anchor who uncovered Clinton tarmac meeting as suicide It's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda MORE—2 Executive Orders, 6 Presidential Memoranda  

Clinton got to work quickly when he took office after 12 years of Republican control of the White House, removing social policies favored by Christian conservatives.

Five of Clinton’s six earliest memoranda dealt with social issues in some form. 

He lifted the ban on fetal tissue research, removed the Title X gag rule that barred federally funded clinics from providing information on abortions, allowed military hospitals to perform abortions as long as no Defense Department funds were used and eased restrictions on the medical abortion drug RU-486. 

He also rescinded the Mexico City policy, beginning the first-week tug-of-war over the policy. 

His other orders include an ethics pledge, the creation of the National Economic Council and a regulatory review. 


George H.W. Bush—1 Executive Order, 0 Presidential Memoranda

Coming off of two terms of serving as President Ronald Reagan’s vice president, the elder Bush didn’t find too much in the executive branch that he felt he needed to fix immediately. 

Bush issued no presidential memoranda during his first seven days, according to the American Presidency Project, and only signed one executive order on ethics reform.  

That order created the President’s Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform, which was tasked with making a report about potential reforms to help “ensure full public confidence in the integrity of all Federal public officials and employees.”