The day America changed
How the world changes in a week. Last Wednesday, news organizations discussed then-President Barack Obama's high approval ratings and whether Betsy DeVos understands the difference between growth and proficiency. Now, President Donald Trump will complete a rapid, wholesale overhaul of federal policy by nightfall. Trump has a lot of outstanding promises, but the quick pace of executive actions are the policy manifestation of Trump doing what he said he would do. And he said he would do a lot. So far, he's made moves to ban Muslims, shut down sanctuary cities, shift policy away from acknowledging climate change and, of course, building that yuge wall on the border with Mexico. But there's plenty more on the horizon.
The White House has momentum, even if tough questions — like what will replace the Affordable Care Act — remain unanswered. This is the deal-maker in action, the man who swears he can get things done. What's he getting done now? And what's coming next?
On Trump's agenda today:
• Banning immigration from (some) Muslim countries. Trump first proposed a Muslim ban in 2015. Aides rolled back his ambitions on the campaign trail, but Trump promised to enact something along the lines of a ban after he was elected. Well, here we are. Reports indicate Trump wants to bar entry for migrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — countries with Muslim-majority populations. (Mic) Trump will implement the ban through executive order, something within his power.
• Building the wall. This was the cornerstone of Trump's campaign, and now it will be U.S. policy — at least on paper. Trump will order a wall to be built along the United States-Mexico border. Cost estimates range from $8 billion (the low end of Trump's figures) to $38 billion. However: Trump's plans to pursue the wall via executive order will undoubtedly hit a snag, as the president cannot allocate funds without congressional approval.
• Targeting sanctuary cities. Trump will take aim at cities that do not turn over nonviolent undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. During the campaign, Trump said he would cut federal funding to cities that do not comply with federal law enforcement requests to detain undocumented immigrants caught locally for nonviolent offenses. (Washington Post) Some of the nation's largest cities offer these immigrants sanctuary and stand to lose billions of federal dollars if Trump moves forward. (CNN)
• The president of the United States called — on Twitter — for "a major investigation" into thoroughly debunked lies that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Trump said he will ask for an examination of registered voters in two states, people in the country illegally and people who are dead. There is no proof voter fraud occurs on any consequential scale — and Trump only called for this investigation after journalists questioned his press secretary about whether he would do so to restore confidence in the electoral system he so publicly denounced. Here's more from Mic.
• Sending the "feds" to Chicago. An hour after Fox News host Bill O'Reilly discussed crime statistics in Chicago on his show, Trump tweeted, "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!" No one is sure what "send in the Feds" means, but it does sound ominous.
• Quieting the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump's White House is demonstrating a zero-tolerance policy for views supported by science. He ordered EPA officials to not speak with the media and to award no new grants or contracts. (Boston Globe) The agency has been instructed to remove its climate change page from the EPA website, just as Trump did with WhiteHouse.gov. (Reuters) Meanwhile, a gag order on communications at the department of agriculture has been lifted. (Mic)
• Fast-tracking infrastructure projects. With a nod to deregulation, Trump signed an executive order that gives the White House the ability to expedite infrastructure projects deemed by the administration to be a "high priority." Trump's order says past projects have been unnecessarily delayed due to environmental reviews, a process he will speed up.
• Other regulation-focused executive orders. On the same day Trump gave the Dakota Access and Keystone pipeline projects approval, he also ordered pipelines in the U.S. to be built with materials made in the U.S. "to the maximum extent possible." He also ordered a review over the next 60 days of regulations that hamper American manufacturing.
This is Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America — and how it affects you. Welcome to the political newsletter that tweets too much late at night. Today, we'll be wading through the knee-deep morass that is news in Trump's America.
Want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox? Subscribe here.
• Today: Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do: reshaping America.
• Confirmation hearings: No more this week.
• Up next: There has been a lot of news in the past 24 hours. Read on.
• More: The "Muslim ban" could go into effect on Wednesday, along with cuts to sanctuary cities.
• Where's Trump? Washington, D.C.
• Today's untruth: Trump's voter fraud lie lives on — and is about to drive policy.
More developments to follow
A bill that would cut all federal funding to abortion programs is beginning to move through the Senate. It passed the House on Sunday. Reproductive health care advocates fear the bill will make getting even private insurance coverage for abortion nearly impossible.
The military court at Guantanamo Bay is reopening under Trump's administration. (Agence France-Press) Closing the U.S. military prison in Cuba was a top priority for Barack Obama, but one he was never able to fulfill.
Israel is moving aggressively now that its leaders feel they have the support of the White House. Thousands of new Israeli settlement homes have been approved for construction in the Palestinian West Bank, a move that is sure to draw much international criticism. The Obama administration opposed such settlements in search of a solution to the decades-old conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, but Trump's administration has taken a very different view. (New York Times)
Democrats will not get another chance to question Betsy DeVos, the billionaire Republican Party donor Trump nominated to become secretary of education. (CNN) DeVos came under intense criticism last week for failing to articulate an understanding of U.S. education policies, the experience that justifies her to run the department, and her role as a political contributor to the GOP.
Fiscally responsible conservatives? Not so much. Apparently, Trump's team wants to pursue a tax plan that would hack revenues without making matching budget cuts, growing the deficit. Tax cuts are popular; budget cuts are not. The short-term thinking could lead to long-term austerity measures that would hurt much more in several years. (Politico)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday. One of the few women or minorities at the top of the Trump administration, Haley was not a vocal Trump supporter during the presidential campaign. (NBC News)
Rep. Tom Price faced more scrutiny from Senate Democrats on Tuesday as he continued his bid to become secretary of health and human services. In his second confirmation hearing, Price again offered little detail around how he will work with Trump to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The Georgia doctor and congressman said his plan would offer high-quality health care — though he pointed to a focus on "access," not guaranteeing everyone has insurance. (Forbes)
There are no more Cabinet hearings scheduled this week.