Two Actions August 15

Yesterday two official actions were taken by POTUS 45. One was a routine continuation of past actions dating to 2001 and the other was an executive order regarding infrastructure. The latter was to be the focus of his press conference and intended to be the story that dominated the news cycle.

That did not happen because he “went rogue” and proved again who he really is.

Official Titles and Links:

Memorandum and Executive Order dated August 15, 2017

Manufacturing Base

While this order appears to be routine, it may turn out to be much more than that. Essentially it orders the study of manufacturing and the defense industrial base. Within 270 days a report is to be produced that identifies problems and recommends actions to remedy the problems, including possible legislation.

I suspect the intent is to eventually create more ways for this administration’s cronies to benefits from defense spending.

Official Title and Link: Presidential Executive Order on Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States

Executive order dated July 21, 2017

Infrastructure Council

The most recent executive order is unique enough that some review and comment are appropriate. Establishing a special council to focus on infrastructure is not a particular surprise, given the call by many for more infrastructure spending. But, some of the particulars of the order are worthy of note.

  1. It will be housed in the Department of Commerce and is to be made up of no more than 15 members all appointed by the president as representatives of various identified infrastructure sectors.
  2. Quoting from the executive order: “Sec. 4. Mission of Council. The Council shall study the scope and effectiveness of, and make findings and recommendations to the President regarding, Federal Government funding, support, and delivery of infrastructure projects in several sectors, including surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resources, renewable energy generation, electricity transmission, broadband, pipelines, and other such sectors as determined by the Council.In pursuing its mission, the Council shall make findings and recommendations concerning the following:(a) prioritizing the Nation’s infrastructure needs;

    (b) accelerating pre-construction approval processes;

    (c) developing funding and financing options capable of generating new infrastructure investment over the next 10 years;

    (d) identifying methods to increase public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects, including appropriate statutory or regulatory changes;

    (e) identifying best practices in and opportunities to improve procurement methods, grant procedures, and infrastructure delivery systems; and

    (f) promoting advanced manufacturing and infrastructure-related technological innovation.”

  3. The ultimate result is to be a report by the council to the president.
  4. The end date of the council is December 31, 2018.

Following are some of my thoughts:

I find item “b” above to be interesting in that it is consistent with so many of the actions of this administration to reduce or eliminate standard review processes.

For some time now, various reports in the media have focused on the high probability that infrastructure funding, if it is forth-coming at all, would benefit his business cronies by requiring public-private partnerships. Item “d” above confirms this as a strategy.

With all the difficulties Congress is having to pass bills this session, it remains to be seen if any kind of infrastructure funding is passed and appropriated, but establishment of this council implies the administration is unlikely to propose anything specific until sometime after the 2018 elections.

Official Title and Link:

Presidential Executive Order Establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure

Executive Order dated July 19, 2017

Regarding Sudan

The date for determining actions related to Sudan has been extended from July 12, 2017 to October 12, 2017. Two actions dated yesterday reflect this change. The executive order revises one dated January 13, 2017 to “allow additional time” for positive actions by the government of Sudan.

As best I can tell, this is a more or less routine set of actions.

Memorandum: A Message to the Congress of the United States

Executive Order: Presidential Executive Order on Allowing Additional Time for Recognizing Positive Actions by the Government of Sudan and Amending Executive Order 13761

Memorandum and Executive Order dated July 11, 2017

National Space Council

Yesterday one executive order was posted on the White House website. This one I find really interesting, if only because it revives a council created years ago that was no longer functioning. Following is a direct quote from the order:

Section 1. Purpose. The National Space Council (Council) was established by Title V of Public Law 100-685 and Executive Order 12675 of April 20, 1989 (Establishing the National Space Council). The Council was tasked with advising and assisting the President regarding national space policy and strategy. The Council was never formally disestablished, but it effectively ceased operation in 1993. This order revives the Council and provides additional details regarding its duties and responsibilities.

I was curious to know why it ceased operation in 1993. Was it simply ignored by President Clinton and Vice President Gore (intentionally or unintentionally), or was its demise effectively managed before January 20, 1993 by President George H.W. Bush and/or Vice President Dan Quayle?

After looking up various documents to see if I could figure out why, I found the final report on the space program submitted by VP Quayle and dated January 1993. As a result of this report, the Council appears to have been basically halted by recommendation of VP Quayle to the incoming Clinton administration. (A quote from near the end of the report: “For the future, EOS should have direct oversight at the highest level of management within NASA…) I had to look up EOS and learned it is the acronym for Earth Observation System.

Now, I am interested to know how the Space Administration feels about this revival of an oversight council, and whether or not it is their recommendation, or even if they were consulted at all previous to this order. I will be vigilant for public reports on this action, hoping some reporter will follow up and seek comments from the current space administration officials.

Official Title and Link

Presidential Executive Order on Reviving the National Space Council

Executive Order signed June 30, 2017

Change to Foreign Visitor Processing

Anytime this POTUS signs an order to change a previous president’s executive order, my curiosity is piqued, because so much of the public rhetoric of this administration makes clear the intention is to undo as much as possible what President Obama did.

Even though this executive order is very brief, it becomes quite significant for anyone applying for a visa to simply visit the United States. This has nothing to do with immigration, only foreign visitors.

All the order does is change one subsection of Section 2 of the original executive order and authorizes the executive branch officers to make changes to policies and procedures as a result.

Following is the full text of the sub-section of the January, 2012 executive order being deleted:

(ii) ensure that 80 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants are interviewed within 3 weeks of receipt of application, recognizing that resource and security considerations and the need to ensure provision of consular services to U.S. citizens may dictate specific exceptions;

I am speculating now, but it appears to me to recognize the fact that the State Department is so understaffed that is would not be possible to deliver on the original directive. If that is the case, what concerns me most is the high probability that the dismantling of the government (long a goal of presidential advisor, Steve Bannon) is continuing apace.

Official Title:

Presidential Executive Order Amending Executive Order 13597

Executive Order signed June 21, 2017.

Internships

Like so many other of POTUS 45’s orders, this one is more bluster than substance. It essentially establishes a task force to produce a report on how to increase internships as part of work force development. Thirty days after the report is finished, the task force is disbanded.

Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America

Executive Order signed June 15, 2017