WASHINGTON – On one hand, the first 50 days of Donald Trump's presidency, in some ways, closely resemble those of his recent predecessors. But on the other, those similarities largely have been overshadowed by missteps and inflammatory tweets.
A botched executive order banning many Muslims from entering the United States, allegations that former President Barack Obama tapped his phones, and an otherwise chaotic seven weeks have defined Trump's first 50 days. But data reviewed by CQ Roll Call spanning the current presidency back to the opening days of the Reagan administration shows the former businessman and reality television star is off to a start much like several other recent commanders in chief.
A major theme of Trump's still-young presidency has been his executive orders, which have twice restricted entry into the country by individuals from some Muslim-majority countries, fast-tracked two oil pipeline projects, altered federal regulation practices, frozen federal hiring, expedited the environmental permitting process and targeted the Obama administration's 2010 health law, among other things.
Some of the orders, like the travel ban, have had muscle. Others, like those ordering federal entities to review things, have not. And in their total, Trump is on a pace similar to Obama.
After his first 50 days, the 44th president had issued 33 executive orders. Trump has signed 28 so far. In this category, Trump and Obama are linked because their use of executive orders and memorandums far outpaced their immediate predecessors.
Yet, Trump's orders seem to carry more weight. That's largely because of coast-to-coast protests after he signed the initial travel ban order in late January.
"I think what you see is Trump and his people are doing things that are too rushed — and I think he's very impatient — and basically go off without thinking or preparing a lot," said Brad Bannon, a Democratic political strategist. "The travel ban is probably the best example of that. I think there was just no real thought about how federal judges would react. Some of these orders have been thrown together in a kind of slapdash fashion."
But some Republicans, like Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, see a different image. The duo met privately Tuesday with Trump, with Perdue telling reporters after the session that the first half of Trump's first 100 days have kick-started "the early makings of some growing confidence at the consumer level, and also at the corporate level, in terms of investing."
"We think what is happening right now is the president's conversation about pulling back on regulations, the impending tax work that we're going to do later this year, and also the health care work that we're doing right now to replace and repeal Obamacare is getting traction in the real world," Perdue said.
The 45th president has enacted a comparable number of laws as two recent chief executives. His eight are one more than Obama and two more than Bill Clinton; both Bushes enacted just one during his first 50 days, with Ronald Reagan enacting four.
The average size of those laws under Trump has been two pages, putting him on par with the younger Bush, Clinton, the elder Bush, and Reagan. One of the biggest differences the reviewed data reveals is how Trump's two-page average stacks up against Obama's 74-page average.
To be fair, Obama inherited a global economic crisis, and signed a 407-page stimulus bill during his first 50 days. There was no comparable crisis that Trump was forced to address via legislation.
On executive nominations, Trump has made 63 and gotten 17 confirmed.
Here, Reagan stands supreme: He got 118 executive nominees on the job within his first 50 days after sending a whopping 254 names to Capitol Hill. Democrats have been slow-walking Trump's nominees, using committee and floor rules to keep his confirmation total on par with the elder Bush's 18.
Despite the opposition party's tactics, some Republican senators want the White House to pick up the pace.
"I continue to ask for additional names to come forward, and I'm assured that they will be soon," Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso said Tuesday.
Barrasso even brought the matter up with Vice President Mike Pence: "He assures us that there's a long list coming soon."