Trump signed three executive orders focused on trade and the workforce on Monday, making some of his campaign promises an immediate reality. One executive order removes the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another reinstates the Mexico City policy known as the “global gag rule”, and another freezes federal workforce hiring. Today Trump signed executive orders to continue construction of both Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, which had been halted by the Obama administration due to environmental concerns. Trump, who believes climate change is a hoax and has filled his Cabinet with climate change deniers and fossil fuel proponents, advanced the oil pipelines allegedly because he believes it would produce more jobs.
The Keystone XL pipeline, which plans to transport tar sand oil — considered one of the dirtiest fossil fuels — across the US-Canada border, was rejected in 2015 by Obama after a seven-year review. The Dakota Access pipeline was stalled in December after Native water protectors, led by Standing Rock Sioux, protested the construction of the 1,172-mile project because it would pollute their water sources and desecrate their land and sacred grounds.
He also signed another order today that requires the steel used in the pipelines be made in the U.S., noting it would put “a lot of steelworkers back to work.” He also signed two directives that could potentially change the future process of approving and regulating future pipelines and “infrastructure projects” by cutting environmental regulations.
On Monday, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP, an enormous trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific rim countries that included Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Canada and Mexico. The Obama administration backed the agreement saying it would boost economic ties with Asian nations. Both Hillary Clinton (who initially supported the agreement) and Bernie Sanders criticized TPP for not doing more to support American workers. Trump has always opposed TPP. Shortly after signing the executive order he said, “Great thing for the American worker, what we just did.” Vox explains why TPP is so complicated:
“In short, modern trade deals like the TPP are about a lot more than just trade. They’ve become one of the major ways the world hashes out the rules of the global economy. And that’s a big reason the deal has become controversial. For example, digital rights groups and global health advocates who are not normally focused on trade issues have warned that the deal could negatively impact digital innovation and the global effort to combat AIDS, among other things.
Critics also say the process of drafting the TPP is deeply flawed. Negotiations over the TPP’s terms were conducted in secret, with well-connected interest groups having access to more information — and more opportunities to influence the process — than members of the general public.”
Trump followed the tradition of previous Republican administrations when he reinstated the Mexico City policy. The policy prohibits the U.S. from giving funding to international nongovernmental organizations that offer or give information about various family planning and reproductive health options if they include abortion, even if U.S. funds aren’t actually funding abortions. Legally, under the Helms amendment implemented in 1973, the U.S. can’t use taxpayer money on abortions overseas anyway. Nonetheless, Republicans think the policy is still necessary to eliminate all information surrounding abortions. The policy was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and has since been rescinded and reinstated depending on which party was in power. Bill Clinton rescinded it, George W. Bush reinstated it and Obama rescinded it again once he took office.
The implications of reinstating the global gag rule are severe for women and girls all across the world. Last year, the U.S. spent more than $600 million on international family planning assistance that helped 27 million women and couples receive contraceptive services and supplies which helped in averting 6 million unintended pregnancies. The funding also helped prevent 2.3 million induced abortions, with 2 million of them being unsafe, and helped save the lives of 11,000 women. Without the funding, it puts women’s lives in danger and could be deadly due to the lack of access and information for safe abortion. Marie Stopes International, a nonprofit reproductive health group, says the loss of their services during Trump’s first term could result in 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions, 2.1 million unsafe abortions and 21,700 maternal deaths. The group points out how the policy has the potential to end women’s futures around the world.
“Women and girls who lack access to a choice of family planning methods are less likely to complete their education, have a career, or be able to pursue their plans and dreams for the future. They are more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy, and more likely to risk death and disability by undergoing an unsafe abortion.
A reduction of funding for comprehensive, voluntary contraception services will negatively impact not just women’s health but their opportunities for the future.”
In his third order, Trump put a hiring freeze on federal workers, but made it a point to say it didn’t apply to the military. The memorandum outlines that “no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances.”
Shortly after being sworn in on Friday, Trump signed an executive order that cancelled an FHA mortgage premium cut that helps low-income and first-time homebuyers and signed another that guides agencies in limiting the way the Affordable Care Act works, according to NPR.