Federal Relations

January 23, 2017

Trump Issues Memos on TPP, Federal Hiring Freeze, and US Foreign Aid

President Donald Trump signed three presidential memos on Monday freezing federal hiring, withdrawing the US from the TPP, and banning US foreign aid from performing or promoting abortions.

First, President Donald Trump moved Monday to make good on a campaign promise to shrink the size of the federal government, issuing a memo to freeze federal hiring. The military was exempted from the memo’s constraints.

Second, President Trump issued a memo to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The move fulfills one of Trump’s signature campaign pledges to get out of the sweeping 12-nation trade deal, which he once called “a rape of our country” and said would hurt US jobs.

Third, President Trump issued a memo that calls for the reinstatement of a policy to prevent the recipients of American foreign aid from performing or promoting abortions. The action comes the day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The memo would prohibit NGOs that receive federal funding – including health care providers or organizations – from providing or promoting abortion or from advocating for abortion laws abroad.


On Friday, immediately following President Trump’s inauguration, Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Prebus, issued a Memoranda instructing the heads of federal departments and agencies to stop advancing regulations until Trump appointees are able to review them. The memo was issued by Priebus is typical when a new party takes the White House. The memo is in many ways identical to one that then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel sent on Jan. 20, 2009. 

Priebus’ memo made exceptions for emergency situations and other urgent health, safety, financial or national security matters allowed by the Office of Management and Budget. It also makes exceptions for regulations implemented to meet a statutory or judicial deadline. 

Impacts from that freeze are far reaching and include:

  •  The Housing and Urban Development Department suspended the mortgage insurance premium rate reduction scheduled to take effect later this month.
  • The Education Department rule to forgive student loans of borrowers if they were defrauded by their college could be delayed. The rule was finalized in October but would not go into effect until July. The department has also not finalized a proposed rule meant to increase state officials’ oversight of online college programs within their state. The department estimated the rule would affect 5.5 million students.
  • The Labor Department’s contentious fiduciary rule, opposed by Republicans, has been finalized but will not go into effect until April. It could be blocked by the memo. The rule would require retirement investment advisers to put the best interests of their clients before their own interests.
  • USDA has stalled a final rule published Thursday setting animal welfare standards for poultry and livestock. It was scheduled to take effect March 20, with portions phased in through 2018. The rule is meant to enable the Agriculture Department to certify products as organic. The proposal has divided the poultry industry, with some producers calling the requirements excessive and unnecessary.