President Donald Trump’s first months in office have been filled with a flurry of action, and he’s just getting started.
The 45th president has signed 66 executive actions so far, with far-reaching effects on Americans’ lives.
There are technically three types of executive actions, which each have different authority and effects, with executive orders holding the most prestige:
- Executive orders are assigned numbers and published in the federal register, similar to laws passed by Congress, and typically direct members of the executive branch to follow a new policy or directive. Trump has issued 24 orders.
- Presidential memoranda do not have to be published or numbered (though they can be), and usually delegate tasks that Congress has already assigned the president to members of the executive branch. Trump has issued 22 memoranda.
- Finally, while some proclamations — like President Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation — have carried enormous weight, most are ceremonial observances of federal holidays or awareness months. Trump has issued 20 proclamations.
Scholars have typically used the number of executive orders per term to measure how much presidents have exercised their power. George Washington only signed eight his entire time in office, according to the American Presidency Project, while FDR penned over 3,700.
In his two terms, President Barack Obama issued 277 executive orders, a total number on par with his modern predecessors, but the lowest per year average in 120 years. Trump, so far, has signed 24 executive orders in 89 days.
Here’s a quick guide to the executive actions Trump has made so far, what they do, and how Americans have reacted to them:
Executive Order, April 18: ‘Buy American, Hire American’
At a tools manufacturer in Wisconsin, Trump signed an order directing federal agencies to review and propose changes to the popular, but controversial H-1B visa program meant to attract skilled foreign labor.
Critics say it’s used by companies to hire cheap, foreign workers in place of Americans, while proponents — including many in the tech industry — say it provides much-needed skilled workers to sectors where companies have struggled to hire Americans.
Trump’s “Buy American, hire American” order also directs federal agencies to maximize the American products they purchase, particularly calling out “steel, iron, aluminum, and cement.”
Presidential proclamation, April 14: National Park Week
The president also donated his first quarter salary to the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. Critics were quick to point out that Trump’s $78,333.32 donation could hardly make up for the nearly $2 billion his federal budget proposes cutting from the Interior Department this year.
Presidential memorandum, April 12: Delegating terrorist report request
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act directs the president to review “known instances since 2011 in which a person has traveled or attempted to travel to a conflict zone in Iraq or Syria from the United States to join or provide material support or resources to a terrorist organization,” and submit a report to Congress.
Trump delegated this responsibility to FBI Director James Comey.