Political News

Trump signed a lot of executive orders. Now, the real work begins

Posted June 12

Tucked away in dozens of executive orders and memos he signed in his first 100 days, President Donald Trump assigned a lot of homework. And the due dates are rapidly approaching.

Trump has ordered reviews of everything from immigration enforcement to regulatory reform to ISIS, with deadlines extending through next year, according to a CNN analysis of the executive orders.

Many of the reports are designed to lay the groundwork for further action, including rolling back Obama-era rules or cutting agency jobs.

Reports are due shortly on the controversial "Bears Ears" monument designation, on whistleblower protections at Veterans Affairs, on buying and hiring American and on tax burdens. More border security assessments are due in July, and several cybersecurity reviews are due in August.

The White House's Office of Management and Budget has also been busy executing -- or at least laying the groundwork to execute -- Trump's plans to transform the government. It has released guidance on developing a plan to reform government and reduce the workforce, issuing its own homework to federal agencies, due June 30.

Trump signing the executive orders was a key part of his first 100 days. How agencies respond to their assignments will determine what his administration is able to do.

"It's possible to comply with the orders of an executive order by submitting a report which is a whole bunch of BS, but you've checked the box." said former White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Mu-oz. "If I had done that, I'm quite confident I would have been fired. But it is definitely possible. The follow-through is everything. The follow-through is the difference between a document that is for show and a document that is for real as an instrument of policymaking."

Will they be public?

Americans may never fully know what became of many of these reports if the administration does not choose to make them public, as it has declined to do in some early cases.

The White House did not respond to any of CNN's inquiries about the status of due reports and whether they would be made public.

Mu-oz said releasing the reports can be a key factor in determining whether the President is seriously trying to make policy or just trying to pad his executive orders.

"If it's not visible to the public then it's very hard to know whether they were serious," Mu-oz said. "At the end of the day, if you're driving things from the White House, you have opportunities to look like you're tackling things, and the opportunity to actually tackle things.

What's been turned in

The White House has said previously it received its "preliminary draft of the Plan to defeat ISIS" as ordered in Trump's eponymous memorandum, which was due in late February.

Also due at the end of February: Each agency must identify sources of aid to Mexico. Those were transmitted to the State Department and consolidated into a report sent to the White House, a spokesman confirmed.

The administration never made clear how such information would be used, though the President has repeatedly pledged to force Mexico to pay for a border wall.

Other reports are overdue. The Department of Homeland Security has yet to send over to the White House three reports -- two due in April and one due last weekend. Both of Trump's executive orders signed in January on immigration, one on border security and one on enforcement within the US, required a report on progress after 90 days.

A draft copy of one report, obtained by CNN, contained guidance to officials to release undocumented immigrants awaiting court proceedings only in limited circumstances as well as on efforts to increase detention capacity by up to roughly 30,000 beds, pending funding.

A DHS spokeswoman said the reports have yet to be sent to the President, as required. "We expect to finalize and transmit soon," said Justine Whelan.

Another report that will be required every 90 days detailing all changes to any individual's immigration status made during those three months was due June 4. Whelan said that one is "pending transmission to the White House."

DHS did not say whether those reports would be made public; they have closely held the reports due in April even from some offices in Congress.

Reviewing regulations

In other coming attractions, the Treasury Department is working on a report that will recommend ways to "provide relief for community banks and make regulations more efficient, effective and appropriately tailored," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified last month.

That report was due June 3.

Spokespeople for multiple agencies also say an interagency working group to combat transnational criminal organizations has been established by DHS, State, the Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence and will deliver its intelligence assessment as required on June 9. That report will be classified.

Each federal agency was asked to designate a regulatory reform officer and produce a report on the topic. DHS confirmed it had done so, but the White House did not respond to an inquiry as to whether the requirement had been completed across the board.

The Commerce Department also did not answer whether it had completed reviews due in March and May on manufacturing and permitting or say where it was in its ordered review of steel and aluminum imports, which was only asked to be done "expeditiously."

The Justice Department also did not respond to a request on whether it had completed its own 90-day report reviewing implementation of Trump's executive order on immigration enforcement.

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