President Trump has relied heavily on executive power to advance his agenda during an action-packed first 50 days in office.
Trump thus far has issued 16 executive orders, roughly on pace with President Obama, who signed 17 days at this point in his presidency. Trump has also approved more than a dozen additional memoranda, some containing key policy changes.
But unlike Trump, Obama already had two major legislative achievements under his belt at this point in his presidency: an $800 billion economic stimulus package and a law making it easier for women to sue for equal pay.
Trump is halfway through his first 100 days in office, the period of time typically used as a benchmark to judge the early success of presidents. But Republican leaders have sought to downplay expectations for that timeframe, instead emphasizing the first 200 days.
Many of Trump’s earliest actions have been geared toward what his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, termed the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”
But the jury is still out on how much the president will be able to put his own stamp on the government while fulfilling the promises he made to voters.
Trump appears to be turning his full attention to Congress with a push this week to repeal and replace ObamaCare. It’s an attempt to jump-start work on his legislative agenda, with hopes that work on tax reform and an infrastructure package could follow this summer.
Perhaps more than anything, Trump’s first 50 days have been marked by controversy.
Multiple investigations into his associates’ alleged ties to Russia have proven to be a constant distraction from his governing agenda, leading to the dismissal of Michael Flynn as national security adviser, the recusal of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE from Russia-related inquiries into the presidential election and heightened tensions between Trump and the intelligence community.
Trump has often fueled the controversy himself.
Last weekend, he accused Obama of illegally wiretapping Trump Tower during the campaign. Trump used his first full day in office to launch into a feud with the media over the size of his inaugural crowd. Days later, he claimed to lawmakers that millions of illegal voters cost him the popular vote to Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE.
Those controversies have overshadowed some of the real changes enacted by Trump during his first 50 days. Here’s a look at some of the biggest policy shifts.
Trump signed a flurry of executive actions during his first week in office, but none caused a bigger stir than his travel ban.
The measure temporarily blocked people from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. and put the country’s refugee resettlement program on hold, while indefinitely barring Syrian refugees.
Trump handed down the directive in a surprise announcement on a Friday afternoon, setting off chaos at airports around the world as authorities struggled to implement the new policy. It resulted in hundreds of travelers being detained, which in turn sparked protests and legal challenges.
A federal judge in Washington handed Trump his first major defeat by blocking the policy nationwide, which was later upheld by an appeals court. Trump was defiant, launching a verbal attack on the judicial branch.
But the president eventually bowed to the courts. He issued a revised order on Monday aimed at moving past the legal problems that torpedoed the original ban.
For Trump, it was an early lesson that executive power has its limits.
While the travel ban attracted the most attention of Trump’s actions, his new guidance on immigration enforcement has had the most wide-ranging effect.
The directives call for the aggressive enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws, which could result in millions of deportations if Trump puts the full weight of his administration behind them.
Trump has vastly expanded the number of immigrants targeted for deportations, called for the hiring of thousands of new immigration enforcement and border agents and enlisted local police to help round up people living in the country illegally. The administration is also planning to build new detention facilities, deport more immigrants without a court hearing and publicize crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
Obama set a record by deporting around 3 million people during his presidency. The new Trump policies could target up to 8 million.
The new actions have emboldened immigration enforcement agents while striking fear into immigrant communities.
The change has already been felt, as many immigrants who may not have been considered priorities for removal under Obama have been arrested or ordered to leave: a mother of two U.S. citizen children in Arizona, a mother of four in Chicago and a well-liked manager of a Mexican restaurant in southern Illinois.
The Trump administration’s actions have led to the repeal or delay of more than 90 federal regulations from the Obama era.
The regulations had affected everything from the financial and telecommunications industries to gun sales and the environment.
Trump signed directives freezing Obama regulations that had asserted federal control over small waterways and required financial advisers to work in the best interest of their clients.
Under the new administration, the Federal Communications Commission will only ask companies like Verizon and AT&T to take “reasonable measures” to protect their customers’ sensitive personal information. The Social Security Administration, meanwhile, is no longer required to submit information to the national gun background check system that helped sellers identify people with mental illnesses.
Taken together, the actions are a fulfillment of Republicans’ and industry groups’ longstanding desire for less government intrusion. But Democrats and consumer advocates argue they could have a devastating impact.
Trump’s first budget is expected to call for dramatic cuts to the federal government.
His preliminary budget plan reportedly calls for a 37 percent cut to the State Department, as well as multibillion cuts at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and other agencies.
The cuts could hit climate-change research, conservation funding, foreign aid, support for public housing and the size of the federal workforce.
Trump is planning to use the money for a massive military buildup, aides say.
But one plan being considered would even slash budgets for airport security and the Coast Guard to help pay for Trump’s planned wall along the Mexican border.
Presidential budget blueprints are typically nothing more than a starting point for Congress, and GOP critics say the president’s plan doesn’t tackle the main driver of the national debt: entitlement programs.
But Trump is telegraphing that he wants to take a hatchet to the federal government, which could lead to controversy in the months ahead.