Trump signs executive actions on TPP, abortion, federal hiring freeze
President Trump signed an executive order on Monday announcing his plan to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
The order fulfills Trump’s campaign promise to abandon the Pacific Rim trade pact early in his administration.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Trump said after signing the order in the Oval Office, adding that leaving the 12-nation pact is a “great thing for the American worker.”
The president also signed two other executive actions: one that places a hiring freeze on non-military federal workers and another that cuts off federal funding for foreign organizations that provide abortions.
The White House released the full text of the actions roughly five hours after they were signed.
Trump has flexed his muscles on executive power early in his administration in an effort to quickly fulfill his pledge to shake up Washington.
Reversing decades of free-trade policy backed by Republicans and Democrats has long been high on his list.
In a video shot shortly after he was elected, Trump denounced the Pacific Rim trade agreement as a “potential disaster for our country” and said he would pursue bilateral trade deals that have stronger protections for U.S. workers.
Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the head of the White House Trade Council, Peter Navarro, are expected to lead negotiations on new trade agreements.
The decision was welcomed by progressive Democrats and unions who have long opposed the trade agreement, saying its labor and environmental protections were not strong enough.
“I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a former presidential candidate. “Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”
Trump’s decision was a final blow to former President Barack Obama’s signature trade agreement, which he hoped to push through Congress before leaving office.
In 2015, Obama made an aggressive push for legislation that would ease the ratification of the TPP. But lawmakers failed to ratify the deal last year after it came under criticism from both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Withdrawing from the deal would unravel more than a decade of work and inject fresh uncertainty into global relations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific.
Japan, a close U.S. ally and a vocal backer of the agreement, had already ratified it.
Some Republicans were angered by Trump’s decision.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called it “a serious mistake that will have lasting consequences for America’s economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region.”
“It will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road at the expense of American workers,” he said in a statement. “And it will send a troubling signal of American disengagement in the Asia-Pacific region at a time we can least afford it.”
Trump is also expected to move head with his plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
The president is reportedly dispatching his son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner to Calgary on Tuesday to begin talks with the cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trump has shown early in his administration that he plans to move ahead with his agenda, with or without the support of Congress.
On Friday, just hours after he was inaugurated, he signed an executive order directing federal agencies to “ease the burden” of the Affordable Care Act.
Rebecca Savransky contributed.