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Trump signs executive orders on federal hiring freeze, Trade deal withdrawal and global abortion policy

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(The Washington Post) President Trump signed three executive orders on Monday morning that cancel an agreement for a far-reaching trade deal with Asia, start a hiring freeze for many federal government positions, and reinstitute an intermittent policy that prevents federal family-planning money from being sent to international organisations that discuss or perform abortion services.

Trump first signed an executive order formally ending the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fulfilling one of his core campaign promises. The move was largely symbolic, as the deal was unlikely to make it through Congress.

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time,” he said as he held up the executive order related to TPP. “Great thing for the American worker.”

Trump also had promised to take steps on his first formal day in office to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, but that trade deal was not mentioned. He has said he will meet soon with the Canadian prime minister and the Mexican president to discuss renegotiating NAFTA.

Trump then signed an executive order that would implement a hiring freeze for many jobs in the federal government, another one of his campaign promises that he promised to fulfill on his first day in office.

“Except for the military,” he said as he signed the order. “Except for the military.”

Trump then signed a third executive order that resurrects an abortion-related rule known as the Mexico City policy, which tends to be embraced by Republican presidents and rescinded by Democratic presidents. The policy forbids foreign nongovernmental organisations that receive federal funding from performing or promoting abortion services through their work in other countries. The policy takes its name from the location of a conference at which President Ronald Reagan instituted the restriction in 1984. Opponents of this policy often call it the “global gag rule.”

The rule, or its absence, has toggled back and forth each time a different party has assumed power in the White House. So it stayed in place under President George H.W. Bush and then was rescinded by President Bill Clinton on Jan. 22, 1993. When President George W. Bush came into office in 2001, he imposed the rule that Jan. 22, the 23rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion in the United States. President Barack Obama lifted the rule on Jan. 23, 2009.

As reporters were leaving the Oval Office, one asked the president about the lawsuit filed by a liberal watchdog group that alleges Trump is in violation of a little-known constitutional provision that bars him from taking gifts or payments from foreign governments.

“Without merit, totally without merit,” Trump said.

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