Trump's First 100 Days: Policy Priorities

Apr 25, 2017
Originally published on April 25, 2017 8:06 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump offered what he called a 100-day action plan, a roadmap of what he wanted to get done in his first three months. The plan included steps to boost security, protect American workers and reduce corruption in Washington. As we approach the 100-day mark Saturday, NPR's Scott Horsley looks at whether the president has delivered on those promises.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Many conservatives voted for Donald Trump because of his promise to put a conservative on the Supreme Court. Well, mission accomplished.

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NEIL GORSUCH: I, Neil M. Gorsuch, do solemnly swear that I will administer justice.

HORSLEY: Gorsuch has already begun hearing cases, and at his swearing-in ceremony two weeks ago, Trump called the Supreme Court pick one of his most important accomplishments.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And I got it done in the first 100 days. That's even nice.

HORSLEY: If the Gorsuch confirmation is the biggest victory of Trump's first hundred days, the failure to repeal Obamacare may be his biggest defeat. Facing resistance from his own party, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the plug on an Obamacare replacement bill before it even got to a vote.

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PAUL RYAN: We did not have quite the votes to replace this law, and so, yeah, we're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. I don't know how long it's going to take us to replace this law.

HORSLEY: Even Trump was forced to acknowledge health care is more complicated than he thought. Other legislative priorities have also languished, including tax relief, infrastructure and ethics reform. And Congress is not the only stumbling block. The new president has also had the tangle with the federal courts. He'd been in office barely a week when Trump announced action on another signature campaign promise, a travel ban on would be visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.

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TRUMP: We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.

HORSLEY: The travel ban sparked a weekend of protests at airports around the country and was quickly blocked by a federal judge. When the White House tried to rewrite the ban, that version was blocked, too. Despite these setbacks, Trump has begun to steer the federal bureaucracy in a dramatically different direction. He started to roll back Obama-era regulations, including rules designed to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

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TRUMP: I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations.

HORSLEY: Trump's effort to put the brakes on government climate initiatives are sure to be challenged in court. But with every move Trump is signaling, fossil fuels are back in favor with the federal government. Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute could not be happier.

JACK GERARD: Clearly energy is going to be a centerpiece of his job creation initiatives moving forward. We think that's good for the country, and so we're heartened by the direction he's going.

TRUMP: In the international arena, Trump made good on his promise to withdraw the U.S. from an unpopular Pacific trade deal, but he stopped short of labeling China a currency manipulator in part because he wants China's help to rein in North Korea's nuclear program. Promised plans to defeat ISIS and fend off cyberattacks have not yet materialized. But Trump has shown a willingness to use military power - ordering a cruise missile strike in response to Syria's chemical weapons attack and giving commanders latitude to drop an 11-ton bomb on an ISIS target in Afghanistan.

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TRUMP: We have given them total authorization, and that's what they're doing. And, frankly, that's why they've been so successful lately.

HORSLEY: Opening a fresh military front in Syria might be hard to square with Trump's campaign platform of America first, but the administration's crackdown on illegal immigration in this country is very much as advertised.

DORIS MEISSNER: The new administration has really used its campaign promises as its playbook.

HORSLEY: Doris Meissner of the Migration Policy Institute notes arrests of immigrants living in this country illegally have jumped more than 30 percent in recent months. While most of those targeted have criminal records, officers have also swept up thousands of people whose only crime was crossing the border illegally.

MEISSNER: That creates a level of unpredictability and fear and concern that is creating all kinds of changes in people's behavior.

HORSLEY: Last month, illegal crossings fell to a 17-year low, a victory for the new administration, even if Mexico is no closer to paying for Trump's proposed border wall. It's too early to know if that downward trend in illegal crossings will last, and it's much too early to draw lasting conclusions about the new president. What we can say is that many of the things Trump promised to do in his first hundred days turned out, like health care, to be more complicated than he thought. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.