President Trump signed his first executive order in his redecorated Oval Office late Friday, targeting Obamacare, as his administration ordered an immediate freeze on new regulations just hours after his inauguration. It was not immediately clear what the concrete effects of the order would be.
Asked to reflect on the day’s events, Trump told reporters: “It was busy, but good — a beautiful day.”
Seated behind the iconic Resolute Desk, made from the timbers of a British exploration ship in the late 19th century, Trump also signed the commissions for his first two Cabinet nominees to win Senate confirmation: Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. As is customary, other elements of the decor had changed, including the color of the drapes, from crimson to gold.
Trump was surrounded by senior aides and advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks, National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, Stephen Miller and Marc Short. According to a pool reporter, a bust of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was prominently displayed.
Trump’s executive order declares that “it is the policy of my Administration to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” while taking steps now “to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens.”
The order called for government agencies, “to the maximum extent permitted by law,” to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.”
It also called for the federal government “to provide greater flexibility to States and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs,” with the same caveat, “ to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
It was not immediately clear what the executive order would concretely mean for Republicans to make good on their longstanding promise to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
Shortly after the Oval Office event, Vice President Mike Pence swore in Mattis and Kelly, who were confirmed by majorities of 98-1 and 88-11 respectively. Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo, has run into stiffer Democratic opposition. The Senate is still expected to confirm him after several hours of debate on Monday.
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