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Politics & Government

Trump Issues New Executive Actions Ahead Of 100th Day In Office

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We're seeing a flurry of executive actions from President Trump as he approaches his 100th day in office next week. Trump signed several presidential directives at the Treasury Department this afternoon. And while he was there, he offered this coming attraction.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We'll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform. The process has begun long ago, but it really formally begins on Wednesday.

SIEGEL: Earlier, Trump told the Associated Press that his administration is preparing a tax proposal that includes a massive tax cut for both individuals and corporations, but he didn't offer any details. NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now. And Scott, we in the news media have been setting our countdown clocks for Trump's 100th day, which arrives a week from tomorrow. Is the White House also fixated on day 100 as well?

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Robert, it is very much on this president's mind. Trump has been tweeting about it. On the one hand, he says it's a ridiculous benchmark. But he and his aides are also trying to hype his track record. Here's his spokesman, Sean Spicer, speaking at today's White House briefing.

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SEAN SPICER: So far, we've passed 24 laws. We've signed 24 executive orders. We've achieved the first Supreme Court confirmation in a hundred days since 1881. We've instituted tough immigration policies that have driven illegal border crossings to a 17-year low. We've removed more job-killing regulation through legislation than any president in U.S. history.

HORSLEY: Now, some of those things are very consequential. Obviously the new Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, could be issuing rulings for decades after Trump is out of the White House. And the stepped-up immigration enforcement is absolutely having an effect. But of course the young administration's also had setbacks like the travel ban which has been blocked twice now by the federal courts.

SIEGEL: And of course there's the Obamacare replacement effort which was a big campaign promise but which never even made it to a vote. What's the latest thinking on that?

HORSLEY: Well, Trump insists he's not giving up on it, and there has even been talk of a vote in the House next week to beat the hundred-day deadline. There's a lot of skepticism, though, that Republicans can reach consensus that quickly. And in fact, a push next week could create problems for another must-pass bill that's needed to keep the government's lights on. Trump himself told reporters this afternoon he is not trying to jam anything through Congress.

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TRUMP: No particular rush, but we'll see what happens. But health care is coming along well. The government is coming along really well. A lot of good things are happening. Thank you, folks.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And you're going to get a health care vote next week.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Unintelligible) A hundred days?

TRUMP: I don't know. Doesn't matter if it's next week. Next week doesn't matter.

HORSLEY: Now, the president continues to say he wants to get health care done first before moving on to the tax overhaul. And while he suggested today that the tax business might start next week, we haven't seen those details, and similar deadlines have slipped in the past.

SIEGEL: Scott, the legislative path has often led to delays, and the White House is focused on steps that the president can take on his own like those executive memos he issued today. How significant are those actions?

HORSLEY: Today's memos frankly don't do a whole lot. They call for a review of some very recent changes to the tax code and also some of the financial regulations adopted as part of the Dodd-Frank law, but they don't make any immediate changes. Some of the president's orders have been significant - for example, his push to unwind the Clean Power Plan at the heart of President Obama's climate agenda.

Others, though, are less earthshaking. Some basically direct government agencies to do what they're supposed to be doing already. So in some cases, these orders are sort of just a chance for the president to look busy. There is always an element of showmanship at the White House, and that's certainly true for Donald Trump as he nears the milestone of his hundredth day in office.

SIEGEL: That's NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Thank you, Scott.

HORSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.