We’ve heard a lot from President Trump in these first 100 days about his plans for immigration, healthcare, regulations, and trade policy. But let’s not forget that our founders created three branches of government, and the executive branch has limits to its power.
In this two-part series, we’ll follow up on President Trump’s promises with the American people, exploring which things are within the President’s control and what lies outside. (Next week, we’ll look at issues the president can’t directly control, when it comes to your HR policy.)
The President Can Control Some Legislation
During the Obama administration, businesses operated under a climate of enforcement. The Department of Labor fined first and then educated. Under President Trump, enforcement will resemble Bush-era compliance. Companies will receive warnings and education instead of immediately facing fines and litigation. We will have a different working relationship with our enforcement community.
If you dislike the ACA, remember that the GOP must come up with a replacement. There’s a lot of confusion about healthcare. Seventy percent of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act, but also disapprove of Obamacare. Obviously, they don’t realize that it’s the same law.
If the ACA goes away, 20 million Americans will lose healthcare. There isn’t a replacement yet. The new Secretary of HHS, Tom Price, has experience working on a replacement for the ACA and will likely work in lockstep with colleagues in the Senate. However, there is too much political capital at stake to simply repeal this law without a replacement, especially since the president wants to keep popular features. It will be challenging for the GOP to find a replacement that can financially support popular features (such as no pre-existing conditions or lifetime limits) without disrupting the insurance industry.
President Trump has already pulled out of the TPP, but NAFTA can’t be rescinded without congressional action. Furthermore, the agricultural community is the big winner with NAFTA, and these are the same constituents that elected President Trump. Economies in border states, especially Texas, are extremely dependent on NAFTA and many companies strategically place manufacturing and distribution centers to take advantage of it.
Once the dust settles, Congress may try to nationalize E-Verify. President Trump’s executive order on immigration led to lawsuits that were supported by nearly 100 corporations that represent a wide variety of industries. The president seems to have a soft spot for dreamers – undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. His position on deportation has changed since his inauguration, and it remains to be seen whether he can collaborate with Congress to create a new immigration bill that will provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Change can have unintended consequences. How will President Trump's policies affect your organization?
Administrative Agencies and Legislation
Leaders of the NLRB, DOJ and DOL all have terms. The first term for a current board member doesn’t end until December 2017, and the president still has two board seats to fill. NLRB General Counsel Robert Griffin, who wrote the joint employer decision and other notable opinions, has a term that goes through November 2017. The General Counsel controls a lot, so don’t look for changes at the NLRB until 2018.
It takes administrative processes to change case laws and precedents, so it will take a while for cases to have an impact on current rules and regulations. We don’t know if President Trump will come up with his own overtime standard. If so, it may look like something that was enjoined here in December. Regardless of action at the federal level, states may move forward with similar regulations.
Under President Obama, the DOL specifically named the restaurant industry as the worst offender of wage and hour regulations and pushed joint employer claims against restaurants, sometimes in coordination with the EEOC and NLRB. This will likely change under the Trump administration.
Change always has the risk of unintended consequences. We don’t know will happen as we repeal laws, revoke trade deals, and change administrative processes. Time will tell how President Trump’s policies affect organizations, Human Resources departments, and employees.
How do you expect the new administration’s policies to affect your job? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.