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

Signing Statements

The occasion of the signing of the “Russia sanctions” legislation after some bluster to the contrary, was a reminder that I need to, at least occasionally, check for presidential signing statements attached to signed legislation.

I have already written about the first signing statement. Since then there has been only one other before August 2nd, when POTUS 45 actually signed two statements on the same bill!

I’ll take them in order. On June 6 a brief signing statement was attached to the DHS Stop Asset and Vehicle Excess Act. It essentially says in the law Congress exceeded its authority and infringes on the constitutional authority of the president.

There was some speculation among the media about whether or not the president would sign the sanctions bill (H.R. 3364) because of his apparent close relationships with Russia. In the end he signed the bill, but in an unusual action he attached two separate signing statements. I am wondering if when the Government Publishing Office publishes this online there will only be one official version, because they are similar with the typical “there are unconstitutional provisions in the law” objection.

What I missed in most of the media reports was the bill including Iran and Korea as well as more rigorous Russia sanctions.

Official Titles and Links to statements attached to H.R. 3364:

Signing Statements dated August 2, 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