What Trump can accomplish on day one
Judging by his campaign promises, Donald Trump will be a busy man on his first day in the Oval Office.
Trump has pledged to take sweeping, unilateral actions on Jan. 20 to roll back President Obama’s policies and set the course for his administration. Many of Obama’s policies he can reverse with the simple stroke of a pen.
While he could further detail his first-day plans during a news conference this week, here are five areas where Trump has already promised to act.
Trump’s tough stance on illegal immigration was one of the most animating issues of his campaign, and he promised to put his plans in motion right after taking office.
He said during an August campaign rally in Phoenix that he would direct immigration enforcement authorities to deport convicted criminals living in the U.S. illegally, a group he has said numbers 2 million.
“We will begin moving them out day one,” he said. “Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone.”
President Obama has already directed the Department of Homeland Security to put its “highest priority” on deporting convicted criminals and gang members. But presidents have broad authority under the law on immigration enforcement, and Trump could order the agency to go even further than the guidelines Obama laid out in 2014.
Trump could also do away with Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which more than 700,000 young undocumented immigrants have used to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
The president-elect, however, has come under pressure from advocates to keep the program, including from Obama himself.
Trump could also issue directives that take aim at so-called sanctuary cities, which do not aid federal authorities in enforcing immigration law, and order work to begin on a massive wall on the Mexican border. But he would likely need Congress’s cooperation to complete both tasks.
Trump has promised to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines on his first day in office and to cancel any climate-related payments to the United Nations, putting that money instead toward domestic infrastructure projects.
Unleashing the coal industry and rolling back Obama’s energy regulations will be another major priority for Trump.
That could mean lifting moratoriums on new leases for coal mines on federal land in the West and eliminating new regulations on mountaintop mining out East.
And Trump is likely to reverse White House guidance provided under the National Environmental Policy Act that requires government officials to consider climate change and other environmental effects when approving oil and gas projects.
Conservatives say that guidance has been a magnet for lawsuits that have stalled new energy-related projects.
Trump could also look to flex his muscle on policies that apply to agencies directly under his control, such as Obama’s executive actions requiring federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change.
He could also remove solar panels at the White House and on military bases.
Reversing most of Obama’s other major energy and environment policies — including rules on clean power and water, fracking on federal land, oil and gas drilling, and offshore drilling — are likely to be longer term projects for the administration.
Trump could enact his proposed lobbying ban on day one, part of his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
The policies would prevent anyone who accepts a political appointment in the Trump administration from registering as a lobbyist within five years of leaving office. Appointees would also be permanently barred from lobbying for foreign governments.
By enacting such a policy at the start of his term, Trump would be taking a page out of Obama’s playbook. After entering the White House in 2009, the president slapped a two-year lobbying ban on officials who left his administration.
The Trump team has not said whether it plans to keep other Obama lobbying policies, including one that bars officials from working on issues they lobbied on before joining the administration.
Skeptics of both policies have questioned their effectiveness. They worry the bans will drive lobbying activity further underground, as former officials seek to influence the administration and members of Congress without officially registering as lobbyists.
Trump could do two things on his first day in office to satisfy supporters who are frustrated with America’s overseas trade agreements.
After his election, Trump in a video vowed to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which he called a “potential disaster for our country.” That notification could come on Jan. 20.
He could also move forward with his plan to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico (NAFTA).
Both steps are within Trump’s power to take alone. Congress has not ratified the TPP, and the text of NAFTA says any party can withdraw six months after providing written notice.
The hard part will be putting new trade policies in place, which would require congressional approval.
To renegotiate NAFTA, Trump would need to convince Canada and Mexico to come back to the table, broker a new agreement, then persuade Congress to ratify it — a process that normally takes years.
Trump could also encounter resistance from lawmakers if he follows through on his threat to slap tariffs on companies that move jobs overseas. Congress, not the president, has the authority to enact such taxes, and lawmakers in both parties have been resistant to such a move.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence was unequivocal this week in declaring the ObamaCare rollback would begin on the new administration’s first day.
One executive action Trump could take would build on Obama’s so-called administrative fix, which allows state insurance commissioners to extend healthcare plans that would have been wiped out by the law.
Trump could expand on that action, allowing people to keep cheap plans that otherwise might not qualify for inclusion under the law and rendering the penalty for not having coverage void.
He could also reverse the requirement that insurers cover contraception, which would be viewed as a major victory for religious conservatives.
A more disruptive action Trump might take would be to cancel the payments that help low-income enrollees afford their deductibles, called cost-sharing reductions, although there is some dispute over whether this can be done by executive action.
The move would adversely affect insurance companies, which would still be required to provide discounts to their customers but would no longer be reimbursed by the federal government for them. That could blow a hole in their budgets and potentially speed their exits from the exchanges.
House Republicans have already sued the Obama administration over the payments, arguing that they’re unconstitutional.
Trump could also take aim at the nation’s abortion laws by reversing one of Obama’s executive orders that barred states from withholding federal funds from Planned Parenthood.