WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump hit the ground running with a flurry of executive orders on his first full weekday in office, including a hiring freeze on all non-military federal government workers.
America employs 2.1 million civilian federal workers. That includes nearly 130,000 hired under President Barack Obama, according to the Office of Management and Budget and the Labor Department.
Cutting the number of federal workers is listed as the second top priority in Trump’s 100-day action plan, his “Contract with the American Worker,” right behind proposing a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.
Trump also signed an order announcing the United States’ intention not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, the trade agreement among 11 Pacific Rim countries strongly supported by former President Obama but not ratified by the Republican-controlled Congress.
The order withdraws the U.S. from the negotiating process.
“Great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” said the president.
Teamsters chief James Hoffa agreed and immediately praised the move, saying, “With this decision, the president has taken the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs.”
Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., also endorsed the move, but it was criticized by Republican Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb.
McCain called it “a serious mistake that will have lasting consequences for America’s economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region.”
But Sanders countered, “For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals — including the North American Free Trade Agreement, permanent normal trade relations with China and others — which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom,’ which has lowered wages for American workers.”
Trump was also expected to announce his administration’s intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, between the United States, Canada and Mexico, which began in 1994. But there has been no announcement on that, yet.
The president had already said on Sunday he planned to begin discussions soon with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Nieto to begin renegotiating NAFTA to secure more favorable terms for the U.S.
Trump signed an order to reinstate what’s called the Mexico City policy, cutting off foreign aid and federal funds for international nongovernmental organizations that provide or promote abortions. It also blocks federal funding for organizations that portray abortion as a form of family planning.
The policy was instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 but dropped by President Obama in 2009.
The change will hurt funding for such abortion providers as International Planned Parenthood Federation, which operates in more than 180 countries. The pro-life website LifeNews estimated it will stop $400 million in federal funds going to such international abortion providers.
The website reported, “The order ensures U.S. foreign aid will continue to go to health care and humanitarian relief in the millions of dollars. It just will not subsidize abortion overseas.”
The executive order was strongly praised by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, who said it affirmed a “political consensus that taxpayer dollars should not fund abortion and the abortion industry.”
He cited a Marist poll released Monday showing 83 percent of Americans oppose “using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.”
“Without this protection in place, foreign NGOs (non-governmental organizations) receiving U.S. government funds promote and perform abortion throughout the world with the imprimatur of the United States,” said Smith.
“Organizations like Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation have reported performing over 1 million abortions annually,” the congressman added. “Pro-abortion NGOs also set up additional projects overseas seeking to topple pro-life laws, imposing a new colonialism that fails to respect life-affirming cultures.”
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, said, “We are elated that U.S. taxpayer dollars will stop going to International Planned Parenthood, which has been working hand in hand with the Chinese Communist Party in their brutal, coercive population control program in China, which includes forced abortion and sterilization of women.”
“We published an open letter to then President-elect Trump, asking him to investigate and ultimately, to defund International Planned Parenthood for complicity with these women’s rights atrocities,” she added. “We are thrilled that he has taken this swift and decisive action. This is a huge victory for all those who have worked so hard to end abuses by IPPF and to relieve the suffering of women and babies in China.”
“The die is cast and the path is clear for America to learn that abortion is not health care. Abortion kills babies and all too often harms the wombs, health, psyche and souls of mothers,” declared former state Rep. Alveda King.
The niece of Martin Luther King added, “By reinstating the ‘Mexico City Policy’ which saves the lives of thousands of babies and women, President Trump is raising the bar for genuine concern for the lives and health of mothers and our children.”
President Trump also placed a five-year ban on acceptance of lobbying jobs by anyone who leaves the administration.
On Friday, the day he became president, Trump immediately signed an executive order that effectively stopped the enforcement of the individual mandate in Obamacare.
There has been much speculation the president would issue executive orders undoing Obama’s orders on illegal immigration, but that did not happen Monday.
Trump hosted a series of meetings at the White House, including one with business leaders and another one with union leaders.
“Busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security,” Trump tweeted early Monday. “Top executives coming in at 9:00 A.M. to talk manufacturing in America.”
During the meeting with business leaders, Trump said he would impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that build factories outside the United States, and he promised benefits to companies that stay in the U.S.
“What we want to do is bring manufacturing back to our country,” said the president. “That doesn’t mean we don’t trade because we do trade. We want to make our products here.”
“All you have to do is stay,” he said during a morning meeting with top CEOs. He asked them to come back to him in 30 days with ideas to keep more manufacturing in America.
The head of Ford Motor Company called it “a very, very positive meeting.”
“Walking out of the meeting today, I know I come out with a lot of confidence that the president is very, very serious in making sure the United States economy is going to be strong and have policies – tax, regulatory or trade – to drive that,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields.
Trump had previously blasted Ford’s plan to move small-car making to Mexico.
The president told business leaders he wants to cut regulations by 75 percent or more.
“We’re going to be cutting regulation massively,” Trump told reporters.
He vowed to lower the business tax rate “down to anywhere from 15 to 20 percent” from the current 35 percent.
Trump also reiterated his intention to “massively” cut taxes for the middle class.
The new president spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has accepted an invitation to visit the White House next month.
Netanyahu said he hopes to share a “common vision” with Trump on a tougher policy toward Iran.
Also invited to Washington was Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
During a phone call, Trump praised Sisi’s efforts fighting terrorism and Islamic extremism, and he told him he appreciates the difficulties Egypt faces on those fronts.