Washington, D.C. (NBC News) — President Donald Trump announced a series of executive actions Monday focused on trade and the federal workforce, making good on a pair of his core campaign promises.
The actions, signed Monday at the White House, implement a federal employee hiring freeze, formally withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and reinstate a GOP-backed policy regarding foreign aid and abortion funding.
Trump noted that his long-promised action to shrink the federal government would not apply to the American military.
Trump’s action to nix the TPP trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim countries also fulfilled one of his most consistent campaign promises from the 2016 election. The trade agreement, backed by the Obama administration as part of a pivot toward strengthening economic ties with Asian nations, earned criticism from both Trump and his Democratic foe, Hillary Clinton, during their protracted general election fight.
But pro-business groups and many of Trump’s Republican allies have voiced support for the deal.
In a statement, Republican Sen. John McCain called Trump’s move “a serious mistake that will have lasting consequences for America’s economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Trump also acted Monday to reinstate the so-named “Mexico City policy” first instituted by Ronald Reagan. That directive essentially barred recipients of U.S. foreign aid from promoting abortion as a method of family planning. In the early days of his presidency, Bill Clinton reversed the Reagan-backed policy; President George W. Bush reinstated it shortly after his election; and President Barack Obama revoked it – each in their first few days as president.
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire plans to introduce legislation this week in the Senate that would permanently repeal the Mexico City policy.
Trump’s team has also indicated that he will take executive action soon to jump start his promised renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
NAFTA — a trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico that was first enacted in 1994 — was one of Trump’s top targets during his presidential campaign.
Earlier on Monday, Trump suggested that companies that move outside of the United States should expect to face “a substantial border tax.”
“We want to start making our products again,” he said. “We don’t want to bring them in, we want to make them here and that doesn’t mean we don’t trade, because we do trade, but we want to make our products here.”
On Friday, Trump announced his first executive order, which pledged to “minimize the economic burden” of Obamacare pending the law’s eventual repeal.
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