Over the past week, a growing number of Republicans began sounding the alarm about the number and content of executive orders being issued by President Biden.
“The first week in office, what has Joe Biden done? He’s signed an executive order ending the Keystone pipeline, destroying 11,000 jobs,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a Tuesday interview on Fox News.
“The scale of Joe Biden’s executive orders and their impact on Americans is stark,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said last week.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., blasted Biden for issuing “more executive fiats than anyone in such a short period of time, ever. More than Obama, more than Trump, more than anyone. Second, these aren’t just normal executive fiats, this is literally going down the wish list of the far left and checking all of them off.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has been especially vocal about her opposition to Biden’s executive orders.
Will someone please hide the pens from Joe at the White House?
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 26, 2021
Biden has in fact been on a record-setting pace for executive orders, signing more than 40 of them in his first week in office. Most, however, were written to overturn those of his predecessor, Donald Trump. They have included an end to the travel ban from some majority-Muslim countries, a reversal in Trump’s immigrant enforcement policies, the rejoining of the Paris climate accord, the cancellation of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and an end to the policy of prohibiting transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.
After years of complaints that former President Barack Obama had used executive orders as an end run around a deadlocked Congress, Republicans were silent when Trump did the same thing. Not surprisingly, the pace of Trump’s executive orders increased after Democrats retook control of the House of Representatives, thereby blocking his prospects for passing legislation. By the time his term ended, Trump had signed 220 executive orders in a single term. Obama, by comparison, signed 276 over his two terms. From a historical perspective, both pale in comparison to the 3,721 issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 12 years in office, though the nature of the orders, and the debate over whether they were better left to Congress to legislate, has also changed over time. Roosevelt’s most consequential initiatives, including Social Security and most New Deal programs, were enacted by legislation.
With the U.S. Senate evenly divided as Biden took office and debate raging on whether Democrats should seek to end the Senate filibuster to enact his agenda, the president’s barrage of executive orders has predictably drawn praise from Democrats and condemnation from Republicans.
But when it was Trump signing his own executive orders with a Sharpie, criticism from the members of his own party was hard to detect.
In May, Cruz issued a statement praising Trump for his executive order that sought to amend a federal law protecting tech companies from being sued for content of their users’ posts.
“This executive order is an important acknowledgement that we can no longer afford to let Big Tech go unchecked,” Cruz said.
When Trump signed a 2017 executive order rolling back an EPA clean water regulation, Cotton applauded him.
“President Trump promised America’s farmers he would grant them relief from the regulatory onslaught of the last eight years, and this is a good way to start,” Cotton said in a statement.
Rubio responded to Trump’s executive order blocking Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from selling equipment in the U.S. by saying that the president “deserves enormous credit.”
“I strongly support the President’s executive order and Secretary Ross’s decision to issue a denial of export privileges against Huawei,” Rubio said in a statement.
When Trump signed an order in September making it mandatory for hospitals in the U.S. to provide life-saving medical care to severely premature infants, those born with disabilities or those who survive late-term abortions, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., issued a statement cheering “President Trump’s executive order taking further decisive action to protect life.”
A bill to accomplish the same thing had failed in Congress.
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