So, nearly a month and we are still here. Barely.
How about a run down?
His Cabinet Nominations and Confirmations:
- Secretary of Defense – General James Mattis (Confirmed Jan. 20, 2017 with a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947.)
- Secretary of Homeland Security – John Kelly (Confirmed Jan. 20, 2017)
- Secretary of State – Rex Tillerson (Trump nominated for the position as top U.S. diplomat, the equivalent of a foreign minister, on December 13, 2016. He was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 23, 2017.)
- Attorney General – Jeff Sessions (Confirmed Feb. 8, 2017.)
- Secretary of Health and Human Services – Tom Price (Confirmed Feb. 10, 2017.)
- Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency – Scott Pruitt (Confirmed Feb. 16, 2017.)
- Secretary of Labor –
Andy Puzder (Withdrew his nomination on Feb. 15, 2017.) Alexander Acosta (Nominated Feb. 16, 2017.)
Things to Note:
Rex Tillerson: On January 26, 2017, when Tillerson visited the United States State Department, Undersecretaries Joyce Anne Barr, Patrick F. Kennedy, Michele Bond, and Gentry O. Smith all simultaneously resigned from the department. Former State Department chief of staff David Wade called the resignations “the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember.” The Trump administration told CNN the officials had been fired and the Chicago Tribune reported that several senior state department career diplomats left the State Department, claiming they “had been willing to remain at their posts but had no expectation of staying.” link
On Feb. 16, 2017, Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were let go, including Ambassador Kristie Kenney, the Counselor of the State Department and one of the last remaining senior officials. Ambassador Kenney is a career foreign service officer who had served as an ambassador under Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Her staff was told that Secretary Tillerson has no intention to fill the counselor’s position anytime soon.
It should also be noted that not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, however, was in the meetings and Trump is depending on Kushner to handle “peace in the Middle East”. Kushner has no diplomatic experience.
Jeff Sessions: The fight for Sessions confirmation ran hard and deep due to his beliefs. He has flip-flopped most of his decisions during his career on policing, gay rights, investigative priorities and affirmative action. He once called a white civil rights lawyer a “disgrace to his race” and dubbed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People “un-American.” On the reverse side, he helped to promote legislation that honors civil rights leader Rosa Parks, to opposing gay marriage and the inclusion of sexual orientation as a federal hate crime.
KKK – As US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Sessions’s office filed civil rights charges in the 1981 killing of Michael Donald, a young African-American man who was murdered in Mobile, Alabama by a pair of Ku Klux Klan members. Sessions’s office did not prosecute the case, but both men were arrested and convicted.
African-American Issues – In 1985, Sessions prosecuted three African American community organizers in the Black belt of Alabama, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s former aide Albert Turner (known as the Marion Three), for voter fraud, alleging tampering with 14 absentee ballots. The prosecution stirred charges of selective prosecution of black voter registration. The defendants were acquitted of all charges by a jury after three hours of deliberation.
LBGTQ Issues – He voted against the Matthew Shepard Act, which added acts of bias-motivated violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity to federal hate-crimes law, commenting that it “has been said to cheapen the civil rights movement”.
– Sessions voted in favor of advancing the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006, a U.S. constitutional amendment which would have permanently restricted federal recognition of marriages to those between a man and a woman. (Link no longer is active…)
– Sessions voted against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.
Health Issues – Sessions is against legalizing marijuana for either recreational or medicinal use.
– Sessions believes “that sanctity of life begins at conception”.
– Sessions voted against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, which would have provided funding for human embryonic stem cell research (and was vetoed by President Bush).
– In 2006, Sessions coauthored legislation amending the Ryan White CARE Act to increase the share of HIV/AIDS funding going to rural states, including Alabama.
– Sessions voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009.
– Sessions voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Climate and Energy – Sessions is skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change.
– Sessions has voted in favor of legislation that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
– Sessions has voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Immigration – Sessions was an opponent of legal and illegal immigration during his time in Congress. He has said that a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants undermines the rule of law, that the inflow of guest workers and immigrants depresses wages and raises unemployment for United States citizens, and that current immigration policy expands an underclass dependent on the welfare state. In a May 2006 floor speech, he said, “Fundamentally, almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming because they have a skill that would benefit us and that would indicate their likely success in our society.” Steve Bannon talked about Jeff Sessions as the leader of the movement for slowing down both legal and illegal immigration, considering his work to kill immigration reform as akin “to the civil rights movement of 1960”.
– Sessions has opposed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.
– Sessions has opposed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.
– Sessions has opposed the Gang of Eight‘s Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.
Foreign and Military Issues – Sessions opposed legislation by Senator John McCain prohibiting the US military from engaging in torture.
– Sessions introduced legislation to increase the death gratuity benefit for families of service members from $12,420 to $100,000. The bill also increased the level of coverage under the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance from $250,000 to $400,000. Sessions’s legislation was accepted in the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2005.
– Sessions voted against additional funding for the VA medical system. He opposed the bill due to cost concerns and indicated that Congress should instead focus on “reforms and solutions that improve the quality of service and the effectiveness that is delivered”.
– Sessions was nominated to be a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, but his nomination failed due to criticism of his record on civil rights, as well as allegations that he had made racially insensitive remarks.
Tom Price – Price opposes abortion and supported the proposed Protect Life Act of 2011, which would have denied Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) funding to health care plans that offered abortion (the PPACA already prevented public funding covering abortions) and allowed hospitals to decline to provide abortions. The bill excludes cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and in cases where a woman suffers from a medical issue that would place her at risk of death unless an abortion is performed.
– Price voted against federal funding of groups such as Planned Parenthood.
– Price has said that the birth-control coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act violated religious freedoms and suggested that it is not necessary because all women can afford birth control.
– Price voted against a law that allowed the Food & Drug Administration to regulate tobacco as a drug.
Scott Pruitt – Described as a climate change denier, he said of global warming that “that debate is far from settled” and “We don’t know the trajectory, if it is on an unsustainable course. Nor do we know the extent by which the burning of fossil fuels, man’s contribution to that, is making this far worse than it is.”
– Pruitt has sued to fight the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and regulations on methane emissions.
– Pruitt has called himself “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
– Pruitt, as Oklahoma Attorney General, sued the EPA at least 14 times. (Regulated industry companies or trade associations who were financial donors to Pruitt’s political causes were co-parties in 13 of these 14 cases.)
Executive Orders [link]:
1. Executive Order Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Signed: January 20, 2017
Trump signed his first order hours after taking the oath of office. It’s aimed at reversing the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s landmark legislation. The order says the Trump administration will “seek prompt repeal” of the law. It weakens parts of the law, instructing the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation” of any part of the law they think places a financial burden on the government.
2. Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High-Priority Infrastructure Projects
Signed: January 24th, 2017
The order explains how the Trump administration will expedite environmental reviews and approval of “high priority” infrastructure projects, like bridge, airport, and highway repairs. The order instructs the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality to determine a project’s “environmental impact” and decide whether it’s “high priority” within 30 days of a request. This was issued in response to protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
3. Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
Signed: January 25, 2017
The order strips federal grant money to “sanctuary cities.” It also orders the Secretary of Homeland Security to hire 10,000 more immigration officers, create a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, and review immigration policies. The order also creates an office to assist victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. Local and state police must now detain people they find that came to the United States illegally.
4. Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
Signed: January 25, 2017
The order directs federal funds towards construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. It calls on the Secretary of Homeland Security to prepare congressional budget requests for the wall. The order also instructs the government to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, to build facilities to hold undocumented immigrants near the Mexican border, and to end “catch-and-release” protocols.
5. Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
Signed: January 27, 2017
The order temporarily suspends the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia, for 90 days. All refugees are barred from the country for 120 days. Syrian refugees, in particular, are banned indefinitely. During the ban, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security will revise the refugee admission process. After this order was signed, thousands of Americans protested at airports across the country.
6. Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees
Signed: January 28, 2017
The order prevent executive branch officials from lobbying for five years after leaving office. It also places a lifetime ban on lobbying a foreign government. The order bans appointees from accepting gifts from registered lobbyists and bans appointees who were lobbyists from participating in any issues they petitioned for within the last two years.
7. Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs
Signed: January 30, 2017
The order says the government must cut two regulations for every one, new regulation proposed. Regulations cannot cost anything, meaning any costs associated with regulations must be offset by eliminations. The head of each agency must keep a record of the money saved under this order, and they must send those reports to the president.
8. Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System
Signed: February 3, 2017
The order says the U.S. Financial System must have the following “Core Principles”: making regulation “efficient, effective, and appropriately tailored,” preventing government bailouts, and ensuring that U.S. firms are competitive with foreign companies. The Secretary of the Treasury must review financial regulations and report back to the President in 120 days, to determine whether financial policies are in accordance with the outlined “Core Principles.”
9. Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety
Signed: February 9, 2017
The order instructs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create a task force that would propose new legislation to reduce crime, uncover drug trafficking, and expose illegal immigration and violent crime. The newly-assembled task force will submit a yearly report to President Trump.
10. Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers
Signed: February 9, 2017
The order calls on the Department of Justice to “enhance the protection and safety” of law enforcement by increasing the penalties for crimes committed against police officers. The Attorney General oversees this order, and is instructed to determine whether existing laws adequately protect law enforcement. If they are not found to do so, the Attorney general must propose legislation to better protect officers.
11. Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking
Signed: February 9, 2017
The order identifies human trafficking, drug smuggling, cyber-crime, financial crimes, and corruption as threats to “public safety and national security.” It instructs the administration to cut down on organized crime (like gangs and cartels) by increasing cooperation with foreign governments and the way they share information and data. The “Threat Mitigation National Intelligence” will lead this initiative, and will deliver a report to President Trump within 120 days. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly serve on the “Threat Mitigation National Intelligence” committee.
12. Providing an Order of Succession within the Department of Justice
Signed: February 9, 2017
The order changes the order of succession for Attorney General. The sequence is now: the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. Jeff Sessions is currently serving as Attorney General, taking office on February 9, 2017. Just a week before leaving office, former President Obama signed an executive order changing the order of A.G. succession without explanation.
Other Items to Note:
- Immediate regulatory freeze pending review
- Spending freeze and media blackout at several government agencies
- Suspended reduction of Federal Housing Mortgage Insurance Premium rates
- Withdrawal of Affordable Care Act
- Withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Reinstatement of Mexico City Policy
- Government-wide hiring freeze
- American Pipelines: Dakota Access and the Keystone XL pipelines
- High-priority infrastructure
- Voting fraud
- Organization of the NSC and Homeland Security Council
- Changes to Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
First military operation on Al-Qaeda under Trump
January 29 – Trump authorized a raid by US commandos on Al-Qaeda in Yakla, Baida in Yemen. At least 14 jihadists were killed in the raid, as well as 10 civilians, including children. The raid also resulted in the death of Chief Petty Officer William Owens a 36-year-old Virginia-based Navy SEAL, the first U.S. combat casualty in Trump’s presidency.
Supreme Court nomination
On the evening of January 30, Trump announced his nomination of U.S. Appeals Court Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.
And…On Feb. 18, 2017 Trump is holding his first new campaign rally (for apparently his run for re-election) at the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida. link
God Save Us All From This Insanity!!
Your voice will not be heard if you remain silent.