The last three days since the election has seen a frenzy of activity as the expanding team of President-elect Donald Trump has begun the process of forming the players and agenda of the Trump Administration.
The Trump campaign team had been initially slow to develop their transition, so they are trying (and having) to make-up for lost time, which will eventually mean the appointment of thousands of political appointees that will fill positions throughout the federal Government and help make the important decisions that will establish and implement the policies of the next Presidency. More than 100 staff members have been hired thus far to work on the transition team, both on selecting and vetting for key Administration posts, and on issue development.
The Key Staff Picks:
The most important task for the near-term will be selecting and vetting Trump’s cabinet and other senior staff appointments. The transition team will help in this process, and at the same time is helping to flesh-out Trump’s campaign proposals and develop more broadly the policy proposals that will be advanced by Trump in the first 100 days of his Administration and beyond.
The leader of the Transition team is Vice President-elect Mike Pence. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is himself assumed to be a candidate for a top-level position, will serve as Vice-Chair along with Senator Jeff Sessions. Trump may nominate Christie to a position that does not require Senate confirmation, however, to save Christie from further questioning about his role in the recent New Jersey “Bridgegate” scandal. Trump family members Ivanka, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner, who may all themselves be considered for top Administration posts, are also playing a leading role in helping to select key personnel. Other campaign supporters reportedly being considered for top posts include Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus (Chief of Staff), Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (press secretary), Rudy Giuliani (Attorney General), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon, Senator Jeff Sessions (Defense), Senator Bob Corker (State), former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton (State), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Treasury), former banker and Trump campaign finance chairman Steven Mnuchin (Treasury), former Defense Intelligence Director Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn (Defense), founder of Lucas Oil Forrest Lucas (Interior), investor Wilbur Ross (Commerce), former Nucor Steel CEO Dan DiMicco (Commerce or USTR), former Texas Governor Rick Perry (Agriculture), EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic (Labor), former Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson (Health and Human Services or Education), CEO of Continental Resources Harold Hamm (Energy), venture capitalist Robert Grady (Energy), Congressman Jeff Miller (Veterans Affairs), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (Homeland Security), Milwaukee Sheriff David Clark (Homeland Security), and New Jersey Environmental Protection agency official Joe Aiello (EPA). The above is just a partial list of candidates being considered for top posts, and the selection process and candidates for all posts is in constant flux.
Trump’s transition staff is already at work expanding on his campaign proposals, and developing additional proposals to advance in his Administration. An internal and not yet released memorandum being drafted for the transition team lays out an agenda for Trump’s first 100 days, and largely parallels the agenda Trump set forth in his speech made at Gettysburg, PA in September, 2016. This includes the following priorities:
“Cleaning Up Washington”
- A Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
- A hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
- A requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
- A 5-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
- A lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government; and
- A complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
“Protecting American Workers”
- Renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.
- Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- The Secretary of the Treasury will label China a currency manipulator.
- The Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative will identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.
- Lift the restrictions on the production of U.S. $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas, and clean coal.
- Lift “Obama-Clinton roadblocks” and allow energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.
- Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.
Restore Security and the Constitutional Rule of Law
- Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum, and order issued by President Obama.
- Begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia from one of the 20 judges on the Trump list issued during the campaign.
- Cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities.
- Begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.
- Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.
Work with Congress to Pass Measures in 100 Days
- Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act: An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms greatly simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.
- End The Offshoring Act: Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate to other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.
- American Energy & Infrastructure Act: Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years.
- School Choice and Education Opportunity Act: Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school of their choice. Ends common core and brings education supervision to local communities. Expands vocational and technical education, and makes 2 and 4-year college more affordable.
- Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act: Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA. Speed the approval of life-saving medications.
- Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act: Allow Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-side childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.
- End Illegal Immigration Act: Fully-funds the construction of a wall on the southern border with the full understanding that Mexico will reimburse the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions, or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.
- Restoring Community Safety Act: Reduces crime, drugs, and violence by creating a Task Force on Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police. Increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.
- Restoring National Security Act: Rebuilds the military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those admitted to the country support “our people and our values.”
- Clean up Corruption in Washington Act: Enacts new ethics reforms to “Drain the Swamp” and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.
We should emphasize that all of these proposals were developed as campaign proposals. What ultimately moves forward in a Trump Administration will likely in most cases be very different and more nuanced than the broad, sweeping proposals of the campaign. In addition, of course, most of these agenda items will require legislative changes passed by Congress, which by definition will mean that many of Trump’s proposals (e.g., congressional term limits) – either because of Democrats’ ability to filibuster bills in the U.S. Senate, or opposition from members of both political parties in Congress — will not pass, and others (e.g., tax reform) may ultimately be more influenced by Congress than by the White House.
A number of our lawyers and professionals are already in contact with the Trump transition team and working with them on developing the agenda that will be advanced in 2017. Please let us know if you have any questions in this regard or if we can help you as you navigate the new U.S. government landscape under the Trump Administration.