Trump uses executive authority to freeze gov’t hiring, end TPP, foreign abortion aid

Fulfilling a campaign pledge to scale back the size of government, President Trump signed an executive action Monday placing a freeze on the hire of federal government employees and stopping any additional pay raises.

The sweeping move reaches every corner of the federal government except the military and those within the national security apparatus.

Addressing reporters in a Monday press briefing at the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump signed the hiring freeze measure to “respect the American taxpayer.”

It is unclear if Mr. Trump’s hiring freeze would effect former President Barack Obama’s December announcement granting a 2.1 percent wage increase for all federal workers.

While a welcome move to many, Mr. Trump’s gesture on his first day drew outrage from some, including Richard G. Thissen, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

Alluding to the fact the size of the federal workforce is 10 percent smaller now than in 1967, Thissen railed at the freeze and said it would weaken government productivity.

“(The freeze) would undermine the efficiency of government operations by creating hiring backlogs and inadequate staffing levels, and it is unlikely to save any money,” and likely lead to the hiring of additional federal contractors,” Thissen said.

In similar moves this morning, Mr. Trump signed executive actions formally withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade alliance and another reimposing a ban on federal dollars to fund abortions overseas.

Mr. Trump signed the order four days ahead of a planned March for Life organized by anti-abortion groups scheduled for Friday in Washington.

Referred to as the “Mexico City policy” instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the stance bars recipients of U.S. foreign aid from making use of abortion as a instrument of family planning.

Praising the ban on federal tax dollars providing abortions overseas, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement:

“President Trump is continuing Ronald Reagan’s legacy by taking immediate action on day one to stop the promotion of abortion through our tax dollars overseas. (His) immediate action . . . sends a strong signal about his Administration’s pro-life priorities.”

Alternatively known as the “global-gag rule,” the policy has been on a roller-coaster ride for over thirty years:  In 1993, in one of his first actions as president, Bill Clinton reversed the policy; President George W. Bush reinstated it in 2001; and former President Barack Obama rolled back the policy once again in 2009.

In his third executive action Monday morning, Mr. Trump demolished Barack Obama’s Asia trade policy by extracting the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal which includes 11 foreign countries.

A centerpiece of the Trump campaign’s strategy for economic revival, Mr. Trump assailed the pact as falling short in areas such as textile production, intellectual property rights and labor over fears it would mature to resemble the European Union and ultimately limit trade.

“Great thing for the American worker,” Trump said as he finished signing the memorandum.

NBC News also reported Monday that a Trump White House aide said the president will sign an order signaling his intention to re-enter negotiations with Mexico and Canada over NAFTA, a trade agreement signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 after being initiated by the George H.W. Bush administration.

According to the president’s staff, Trump has already begun to schedule meetings with both Mexican and Canadian officials.


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