EXPLAINER: Govt orders may be fast however fleeting

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EXPLAINER: Executive orders can be quick but fleeting

  • President Joe Biden signs a series of implementing ordinances on climate change in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. From left, Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, White House Science Advisor, Dr. Eric Lander, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy. less President Joe Biden will sign a series of implementing ordinances on climate change in the State Dining Room of the White House on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 in Washington. From the left Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, … more

    Photo: Evan Vucci, AP

President Joe Biden signs a series of implementing ordinances on climate change in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. From left, Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, White House Science Advisor, Dr. Eric Lander, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy. less President Joe Biden will sign a series of implementing ordinances on climate change in the State Dining Room of the White House on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 in Washington. From the left Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, … more

Photo: Evan Vucci, AP

EXPLAINER: Executive orders can be quick but fleeting

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden arrived at the White House ready to wield his pen to undermine Donald Trump’s legacy and advance his own priorities.

Presidents Trump and Barack Obama both relied on executive orders and other presidential directives to obtain some of their most controversial guidelines for a stalled Congress. But no president has come out of the gate as eager to use authority as Biden.

An introduction to how presidential power works and its often fleeting effects:

EXECUTIVE ORDERS: THE BASICS

An executive order is a directive signed, written, and published by the president that administers the operations of the federal government.

Not only can Congress pass laws to overturn an order, but it can use legislative measures – such as funding cuts – to confuse the president’s intentions. A new president can override a predecessor’s order by issuing another executive order that effectively overrides it. Biden did this repeatedly during his early days in office as he sought to overturn Trump guidelines on a number of issues including environmental regulations, immigration policies and the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Presidents dating back to George Washington have issued thousands of guidelines for managing the business of federal government, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Many are harmless, such as giving federal employees the day off after Christmas. Executive orders – and their political siblings, the proclamation and the political memorandum – can also be used by a president to advance political goals that the leader cannot achieve through Congress.

Turn back the clock

Time is of the essence for Biden, who, as a candidate, has vowed to act swiftly to get the coronavirus pandemic under control and undo the damage he’s caused by Trump’s policies.

Many of Biden’s orders during his first term are directly related to the pandemic – a mask mandate on federal property, an executive order that provides guidelines for safely reopening schools and emergency gaps to increase food aid and protect job seekers from unemployment due to the virus .

But Biden has also taken executive action to try to put the clock back more than four years to the Obama presidency.

For example, Biden issued an order to reverse a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely discouraged transgender people from serving in the military. Trump himself had issued an order to reverse an Obama action, which laid the foundation for open service for transgender people.

Biden also signed a memorandum to uphold the Deferred Action on the Arrivals of Children, the Obama-era program that has protected hundreds of thousands of people who came to the United States illegally as children from deportation since it was launched in 2012 by an Obama-era Directive was created. Trump issued his own executive order in 2017 to reverse DACA.

Other orders aimed at the basic policy of the last government include a Biden guideline to lift Trump’s ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries, measures by the executive branch to resume the Paris Climate Agreement and a proclamation to stop the construction of his predecessor’s border wall.

BOTH SIDES DO IT; BOTH SIDES COMPLAINTS

However, modern presidents of both parties have been heavy users of executive regulations – and have been criticized by the opposition party. Bill Clinton had 364 two-term appointments, George W. Bush signed 291 during his eight-year term, and Barack Obama issued 276. Trump signed 220 orders during his tenure.

Unsurprisingly, some Republicans have complained about Biden’s early confidence in executive orders. Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee scoffed in a tweet: “@POTUS, you can’t rule with a pen and phone.”

Democrats, by and large, have welcomed Biden’s orders as the necessary ointment to deal with some of Trump’s most divisive policies. However, the president has received substantive criticism from both the left and the right regarding some of the early orders.

Republicans have complained that Biden is wasting tax dollars by halting construction on the U.S. border wall because signed construction contracts have yet to be paid. On the left, some racial justice and civil liberty groups were overwhelmed by a series of orders that Biden issued in an order issued by White House officials as an opening effort against justice and racial injustice.

Biden sold himself to voters as the antidote Washington needs: the highly skilled statesman who could bring bipartisan community to Washington. As his presidency shows, over-reliance on executive orders could undermine this argument.

RESTRICTIONS ON THE ORDER OF A PRESIDENT

The courts and Congress can both review a president’s governance.

Biden has already seen his attempt to order a 100-day deportation moratorium imposed by a federal judge. US District Judge Drew Tipton found that the Biden administration had “failed to provide a specific, reasonable justification” for a deportation pause and ordered an injunction that blocked Biden’s order from taking effect.

President Harry Truman saw his attempt to seize steelmaking facilities in the middle of the Korean War thwarted by the US Supreme Court, which found the president was not empowered to seize private property without congressional approval.

Obama attempted to use executive power to fulfill his campaign promise to close the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has held many high profile international terror suspects over the years. Congress prevented him by voting to block funding for the transfer of prisoners from Guantánamo to the United States, including for law enforcement or medical care.

GET HERE TOMORROW

The experiences of Trump and Obama underline the volatility of executive orders.

Both Trump and Obama saw their most enduring political legacies through Congressional legislation – for Trump, the 2017 tax cuts, and for Obama, his signed Affordable Care Act.

Trump tried mightily, but failed to push a Republican-controlled Congress to repeal “Obamacare”. However, he downgraded an important aspect of the Health Act when his own tax overhaul legislation lowered the penalty for not having insurance to $ 0.

Now Trump is seeing many of his own orders, proclamations, and memoranda that have been destroyed by Biden. And Biden could see very well that many of his executive acts were undone by anyone who succeeds him.

Biden economic adviser Brian Deese acknowledged that some of the president’s executive actions – such as guidelines re-tooling government food aid calculations for Americans living in poverty – and other extended moratoriums on evictions for Americans whose lives were troubled by the pandemic was – only emergency gaps were the President tried to win bipartisan support for a coronavirus aid package worth $ 1.9 trillion.

In the end, Deese said, while the orders are helpful, they are a pale substitute for sweeping legislative measures passed by Congress.