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Trump Signs Hiring Freeze, Proposes Moratorium on New Federal Regulations

President Trump signed executive orders Monday calling for a federal hiring freeze and withdrawing the United States from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

Meanwhile, the White House said the Trump administration is proposing a moratorium on new federal regulations, and ordered the heads of all executive departments and agencies to withdraw certain regulations that have not yet been published in the Federal Register, among other things.

Trump signed the TPP order first, followed by the order calling for the hiring freeze.

"Everyone knows what that means, right?" Trump asked the national media assembled in the Oval Office to watch him sign the orders. "We've been talking about this for a long time. Great thing for the American worker, what we just did."

While signing the hiring freeze, the president said "except for the military" twice.

TPP, which included the U.S. and 11 other countries along the Pacific Rim, had enjoyed support in Republican circles and was also backed by former ExxonMobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson,whose nomination to be secretary of state was expected to be favorably approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday.

In a statement Friday, the White House said that "by renegotiating existing trade deals, and taking a tough stance on future ones, we will ensure that trade agreements bring good-paying jobs to our shores and support American manufacturing, the backbone of our economy. The President plans to show America's trading partners that we mean business by ensuring consequences for countries that engage in illegal or unfair trade practices that hurt American workers."

The same statement also claimed federal regulations cost the U.S. economy more than $2 trillion in 2015. The White House said that figure serves as a pretext for government agencies to "identify job-killing regulations that should be repealed."

Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff, issued a six-point memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies last Friday. Barring certain emergency situations, Priebus said agencies should not send any regulations to the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) until a department or agency head appointed or designated by Trump had an opportunity to review and approve them.

The memorandum also specified that any regulations that have been sent to the Federal Register but have not yet been published should be immediately withdrawn. Additionally, any regulations that have been published, but have not yet taken effect, should temporarily postpone their effective date for an additional 60 days.

"Where appropriate and as permitted by applicable law, you should consider proposing for notice and comment a rule to delay the effective date for regulations beyond that 60-day period," the memorandum states. "In cases where the effective date has been delayed in order to review questions of fact, law, or policy, you should consider potentially proposing further notice-and-comment rulemaking."

In circumstances where postponed regulations "raise no substantial questions of law or policy," the Trump administration said no further action would need to be taken. But for postponed regulations that are expected to prove otherwise, "agencies should notify the OMB director and take further appropriate action in consultation with the OMB director."

The memorandum also calls for any "regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines and identify such exclusions to the OMB director as soon as possible."

Earlier this month, lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed a pair of bills designed to blunt environmental legislation and policies enacted during the Obama administration.

HR 21 calls for amending the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress to issue a joint resolution of disapproval for a block of rules, or "en bloc." Meanwhile, HR 26 would require federal agencies promulgating a major rule to publish information about it in the Federal Register, and include a report to Congress and the Government Accountability Office.

Both bills have been read twice in the Senate and were referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

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