President Donald Trump took executive actions Monday on trade, federal workers, and international abortion policy.
Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, which specifies that federal funds for family planning go only to foreign nongovernmental organizations that agree not to perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning in other countries.
“He has been very clear he is a pro-life president,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Monday. “He is going to stand up for all Americans, born and unborn. This is not just something that echoes that value, but respects taxpayer funds as well.”
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins praised the move.
“This is a great start to the Trump presidency and we hope this is only the beginning of defunding Planned Parenthood and the end of forcing American taxpayers to fund an industry that ends hundreds of thousands of innocent lives a year and irreparably harms women,” Hawkins said in a statement. “This is a new day for all Americans, and we are excited about reversing Planned Parenthood’s hold on Washington.”
The policy has been a back and forth issue between Republican and Democratic administrations. President Ronald Reagan put the Mexico City policy in place in 1984. President Bill Clinton rescinded it in 1993. In 2001, President George W. Bush reinstated the policy. Then President Barack Obama overturned it in 2009.
Trump also signed a memorandum withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“A great thing for the American worker,” Trump said after the signing.
The president reiterated this sentiment later Monday when meeting with union leaders at the White House.
“We have officially terminated TPP,” Trump said to the applause of a group of union leaders.“We are going to put a lot of people back to work.”
The Obama administration entered the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2015 with 11 other countries: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Trump’s executive action to withdraw from the partnership is largely symbolic, since Congress never ratified the agreement, as it faced opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership was a bold idea that was poorly executed by the Obama administration,” Terry Miller, director of the Center for Free Markets and Regulatory Reform at The Heritage Foundation, said in a statement. “A decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the process gives all parties to the negotiations, including the U.S., the opportunity to reassess their positions and explore new means to enhance economic cooperation in the Pacific region that will be to the mutual benefit of all concerned.”
Rather than breaking down tariffs, the Trans-Pacific Partnership extended to labor and environmental issues that should be completed in separate treaties, said Iain Murray, vice president for strategy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank.
“It tried to fit all of these standards onto countries developing at different economic stages,” Murray told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “The environmental and labor standards are why this developed into a 5,000-page document. It’s a prime example of why trade agreements have fallen into disrepute.”
Trump also put a federal hiring freeze into effect to reduce the size of the federal workforce through attrition. Reagan similarly put a hiring freeze in place. The freeze exempts the military, public safety, and public health personnel—based on what Trump promised in his campaign.
In signing, he noted, “except for the military.”
“A hiring freeze is appropriate,” Bob Moffit, a senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, told The Daily Signal in an email. “But it should be followed by an [Office of Personnel Management] review and assessment of federal staffing needs. This should accompany a government-wide evaluation of what federal responsibilities should be retained and what should be devolved to the states and the private sector.”
A federal union was quick to criticize.
“President Trump’s action will disrupt government programs and services that benefit everyone and actually increase taxpayer costs by forcing agencies to hire more expensive contractors to do work that civilian government employees are already doing for far less,” J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement.