New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued one executive order from Feb. 13-19. As of Feb. 19, Grisham has issued 18 executive orders in 2023—eight more than she did at this point a year ago.
Governors use executive orders to manage executive branch operations. During the week of Feb. 13-19, the nation’s governors issued 14 executive orders. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued the most with five. Governors in 41 states issued the fewest orders with zero. Democratic governors issued 12 of the 14 orders, while Republican governors issued two.
Lujan Grisham has served as governor since Jan. 1, 2019. She issued 165 executive orders in 2022 and 68 in 2021. Nationally, governors issued at least 1,559 executive orders in 2022. Governors have issued 251 executive orders in 2023. Republican governors issued 172, while Democratic governors issued 79. New Mexico is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued five executive orders from Feb. 13-19. As of Feb. 19, Murphy has issued six executive orders in 2023—seven fewer than he did at this point a year ago.
Governors use executive orders to manage executive branch operations. During the week of Feb. 13-19, the nation’s governors issued 14 executive orders. Governor Murphy issued the most with five. Governors in 41 states issued the fewest orders with zero. Democratic governors issued 12 of the 14 orders, while Republican governors issued two.
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Murphy has served as governor since Jan. 16, 2018. He issued 37 executive orders in 2022 and 66 in 2021. Nationally, governors issued at least 1,559 executive orders in 2022. Governors have issued 251 executive orders in 2023. Republican governors issued 172, while Democratic governors issued 79. New Jersey is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.
Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) signed an executive order ending the statewide mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on July 6. In accordance with CDC guidelines, vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs (like bus stations and airports).
Rhode Island was the only state that ended its statewide public mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between July 1 and July 15.
In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. At the time of writing, 7 states had statewide mask orders. All 7 states have Democratic governors. Six of the seven states exempted fully vaccinated people from most requirements.
Of the 32 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 16 have Republican governors, and 16 have Democratic governors. Twenty-nine states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.
President Joe Biden (D) signed 28 executive orders, 11 presidential memoranda, and five proclamations in his first two weeks in office.
That is more executive orders than his three predecessors combined—Presidents Donald Trump (R), Barack Obama (D), and George W. Bush (R)—signed over the same period of time.
Executive orders are directives written by the president to officials within the executive branch requiring them to take or stop some action related to policy or management. They are numbered, published in the Federal Register, and cite the authority by which the president is making the order.
Presidential memoranda also include instructions directed at executive officials, but they are neither numbered nor have the same publication requirements. The Office of Management and Budget is also not required to issue a budgetary impact statement on the subject of the memoranda.
In his 2014 book, By Order of the President: The Use and Abuse of Executive Direct Action, Phillip J. Cooper, a professor of public administration at Portland State University, wrote, “As a practical matter, the memorandum is now being used as the equivalent of an executive order, but without meeting the legal requirements for an executive order.”
Proclamations are a third type of executive directive that typically relate to private individuals or ceremonial events, such as holidays and commemorations.
On Dec. 22, President Donald Trump (R) issued 15 pardons and five commutations. Those pardoned included former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and former congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), and Steve Stockman (R-Texas).
President Trump has issued 43 pardons and 21 commutations while in office. Of those, Trump issued 28 pardons and 15 commutations in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
By comparison, President Barack Obama (D) issued 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations during his eight-year term. The last one-term president, George H.W. Bush (R), issued 74 pardons and three commutations.
Between fiscal years 1902 and 2021, presidents issued 14,233 pardons and 6,568 commutations. Democrats have issued more of both (8,393 pardons and 4,103 commutations) than Republicans (5,840 pardons and 2,465 commutations). These figures do not include instances of mass pardons such as in 1974 when President Ford pardoned individuals who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.
The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, grants the president the power of executive clemency. Executive clemency includes the power to pardon, in which the president overturns a federal conviction and restores “an individual to the state of innocence that existed before the conviction,” and the power of commutation, which allows a president to shorten or reduce a federal prison sentence. Executive clemency is limited to federal offenses.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on December 17 issued a proposed rule aimed at continuing the implementation of President Donald Trump’s (R) 2018 civil service executive orders.
The proposed rule prioritizes federal employee performance over length of service in decisions concerning a reduction in force—a principle set forth in Executive Order 13839, “Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent with Merit Systems and Principles.”
E.O 13839 is one of three executive orders issued by President Trump on May 25, 2018, aimed at improving efficiency and accountability within the federal civil service. E.O. 13839 seeks to advance agency supervisors’ ability to support accountability within the federal civil service while protecting the procedural rights of federal employees. The order proposed several principles, management tactics, and reporting procedures for agency supervisors to incorporate in order to address issues of employee accountability.
The proposed rule is the latest in OPM’s attempts to implement the civil service executive orders. OPM previously implemented provisions of the executive orders in September 2019 and October 2020.
Supporters of E.O. 13839 have argued that the order will improve the federal civil service by allowing agency supervisors to more efficiently address poor performance and misconduct in the workforce. Opponents of the order, including federal employee labor unions, have argued that the management changes are unnecessary and might fail to bring about the stated goal of improved employee performance.
The proposed rule is open to public comment for 30 days.
On December 3, Donald Trump signed an executive order that aims to promote the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by federal agencies while protecting public trust and upholding the law. The order directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to post a roadmap for future policy guidance about AI consistent with the principles of the order.
Guidance documents clarify and affect how agencies administer regulations and programs. However, they are not legally binding in the same way as rules issued through one of the rulemaking processes of the Administrative Procedure Act.
The order directs federal agencies adopting AI to adhere to the following framework:
1. Agencies should design, acquire, and use AI in ways that respect national values and that remain consistent with the U.S. Constitution and other laws and regulations (including those involving privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties)
2. Agencies should only use AI in situations where the benefits significantly outweigh the risks and the risks can be measured and managed
3. Agencies should use AI for the cases regarding which the AI was trained and make sure the AI is accurate, reliable, and effective
4. Agencies should make sure AI is safe, secure, and resilient in the face of attacks. Agencies should make sure AI operations and outcomes are understandable by experts, users, and others as needed
5. Agencies should make sure that human responsibilities regarding AI are clear and that all operations are well-documented and traceable to the extent practicable
6. Agencies should make sure their AI applications are tested regularly to ensure compliance with these principles and consistent performance
7. Agencies should be transparent about disclosing relevant information about the use of AI
8. Agencies should be accountable for implementing and enforcing safeguards regarding the use of AI and document compliance with those safeguards
The order also directs each federal agency to identify and share non-classified uses of AI by the agency and determine what changes they must make to comply with the order. Finally, the order directs the General Services Administration to attract industry and academic experts to help agencies develop AI systems.
To learn more about executive orders or guidance, see here:
On Oct. 27, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced the Saving the Civil Service Act (H.R. 8687) to block President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13957.
The executive order, issued on Oct. 21, aims to give agency heads greater flexibility in the appointment of staff members who serve in policy-related positions and make it easier for agency management to remove poor-performing employees.
“The executive order would erode due process protections for civil service employees,” Connolly, along with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a letter that was signed by other members of the Democratic caucus. “It would expedite the hiring of Trump loyalists and place them in roles best served by career civil servants.”
The text of the executive order Trump signed reads: “Separating employees who cannot or will not meet required performance standards is important, and it is particularly important with regard to employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions. High performance by such employees can meaningfully enhance agency operations, while poor performance can significantly hinder them.”
The debate over the executive order to change civil service classifications is part of a larger debate over executive control of agencies. Executive control of agencies is one of five pillars key to understanding the main areas of debate about the nature and scope of the administrative state.
Executive control is primarily exercised through appointment and removal power — the authority of an executive to appoint and remove officials in the various branches of government.
A scholarly debate in this area concerns the president’s removal power: The president has the authority to remove his appointees from office, for example, but he can only fire the heads of independent federal agencies with a cause.
U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) co-sponsored the Saving the Civil Service Act and the bill was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
To learn more about executive control of agencies, see here.
The National Treasury Employee’s Union (NTEU) on October 26 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that aims to block the implementation of President Donald Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13957. The order, issued on October 21, reclassifies federal civil service employees in the competitive service who serve in policy-related roles as members of the the excepted service.
The order directs agencies to reclassify competitive service employees who serve in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions and that are not normally subject to change as a result of a Presidential transition” as members of the newly created Schedule F within the excepted service. The classification change, according to the order, aims to give agency heads greater flexibility in the appointment of staff members who serve in policy-related positions. The order also claims that the change will make it easier for agency management to remove poor-performing employees.
Opponents of the order, including the NTEU and the American Federation of Government Employees, claim that the classification change exceeds the president’s authority and will politicize a large portion of the civil service.
Members of the competitive service are hired according to a neutral, merit-based selection process and have protections against at-will removal by their supervisors. Members of the excepted service, on the other hand, are recruited and hired by agencies to fill certain positions for which candidates cannot be appropriately assessed through the merit-based selection process and do not share in the competitive service’s at-will removal protections. The order, however, directs agencies to develop rules that create similar protections for Schedule F employees.
The debate over E.O. 13957 is part of a broader debate over executive control of agencies—one of five pillars key to understanding the main areas of debate about the nature and scope of the administrative state. Executive control is primarily exercised through the executive’s power to appoint and remove officials in the various branches of government.
President Donald Trump (R) on October 21 issued an executive order, “Executive Order on Creating Schedule F in The Excepted Service,” that directs agencies to reclassify federal civil service employees in the competitive service who serve in policy-related roles as members of the excepted service. Supporters of the order claim that the change will increase agency oversight of staff members who perform policymaking functions while opponents argue that the order will politicize policy-related civil service positions.
The order directs agencies to reclassify competitive service employees who serve in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions and that are not normally subject to change as a result of a Presidential transition” as members of the newly created Schedule F within the excepted service. As members of the competitive service, these employees have been hired according to a neutral, merit-based selection process and have had protections against at-will removal by their supervisors. As members of the excepted service, these employees will be recruited and hired by agencies to fill certain positions for which candidates cannot be appropriately assessed through the merit-based selection process and will not share in the competitive service’s at-will removal protections.
The classification change, according to the order, aims to give agency heads greater flexibility in the appointment of staff members who serve in policy-related positions. The order also claims that the change will make it easier for agency management to remove poor-performing employees. Though the change makes the qualifying employees ineligible for the adverse action protections of the competitive service, the order directs agencies to develop rules that create similar protections for Schedule F employees. The order also instructs the Federal Labor Relations Authority to determine whether Schedule F positions should be eligible for union membership.
Opponents of the order, including American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley, argue that the order could potentially politicize a large portion of the civil service.
It is unclear how many positions will meet the order’s criteria for Schedule F. Agencies have 90 days from the date of the order to conduct a preliminary review of qualifying staff and must conduct a complete review within 210 days.
This order is the latest in a series of executive orders issued by Trump that seek to make changes within the federal civil service. Trump issued a trio of executive orders in 2018 aimed at facilitating the removal of poor-performing federal employees and streamlining collective bargaining procedures. Public sector unions unsuccessfully challenged the orders in court. That same year, Trump issued an executive order in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lucia v. SEC that moved administrative law judges from the competitive service to the excepted service.