Executive orders, dramatic changes and uncertainty mark President Trump’s week two

Rick Nolan
Rick Nolan

From trade to pipelines, and federal hiring to immigration, President Trump last week unleashed a series of executive orders and other moves signaling dramatic changes in our Nation’s direction. Some of his decisions were positive. Others were marked by vigorous opposition and uncertainty. But all will require thorough review and oversight by Congress. Republicans are in charge, with no more excuses for failing to get things done. And after last week, there’s only one thing for certain — we’re in for a real rollercoaster ride. As I’ve stated before, I’ll support the President when he’s right and fight him tooth and nail when he’s wrong. So far, it’s been a mixed bag.
The President was absolutely right to officially remove the U.S. from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free” trade agreement, and right again with his statement supporting the use of 100 percent American steel and iron ore in all future federally permitted energy pipeline projects.
For the past four years, I’ve been leading the charge and building political support in Congress on both those issues not only because they translate into more good paying jobs here in the 8th District and across our Nation, but because they serve to protect our precious environment. Why? Because so-called “free” trade deals like the TPP and NAFTA fail to require other nations to adhere to the same strict environmental protections we have here in the United States. And because numerous studies have shown energy pipelines built with top quality American iron ore and steel to be far safer for the environment than transporting energy via highways and railroads.
Monday also marked the reintroduction of my American Pipeline Jobs & Safety Act to require that all energy pipelines be built with 100 percent American iron ore and steel. I hope the President will give our measure his full support so we can write those requirements into the law and help ensure solid environmental protections and more good paying jobs and continued growth for the iron ore and steel industries so critical to our national economy and military security.
However, the President was wrong on the federal employee hiring freeze he announced on Monday. The Republican assault on public employees is an attack on good, hardworking people. It’s unfair, demeaning and demoralizing. Government workers are not the incompetent bureaucrats Republicans claim them to be. They are hardworking men and women who are trying to support their families and serve our great Nation. Moreover, studies have shown that previous federal employee hiring freezes did not reduce agency costs. On the contrary, they simply served to replace federal employees with most expensive private contractors.
Friday brought a dramatic Presidential executive order on immigration. In essence, it’s a ban directed at Muslims – a clear violation of Constitutional protections against religious discrimination that rolls back our Nation’s long, hard fought battle for greater inclusion. In a nutshell, President Trump suspended entry of all refugees into the U.S. for four months, stopped Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely, and banned citizens from seven predominately Muslim nations from coming to America for 90 days. These steps are both radical and unnecessary. To be clear, under new legislation passed with my support during the last session of Congress, we already have the toughest, most comprehensive refugee vetting process of any nation in the world. Before entering this country, refugees undergo 18 to 24 months of investigations by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies. It’s as good a process as is humanly possible to implement. That said, if there are things that need fixing, we should do it through comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform — something Republican leaders have consistently refused to allow.