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Trump Signs Executive Actions Shortly After Inauguration Ceremony


Now we're going to hear about some of the first moves that the incoming president made today. As promised, President Trump got to work quickly, spending some time in the Oval Office tonight in between the inaugural parade and a trio of formal balls. He signed an executive order relating to Obamacare.

NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now. And Scott, tell us about this nighttime signing ceremony.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Well, as you say, it happened after the new president had watched the inaugural parade come down Pennsylvania Avenue and before he changed into his tuxedo for tonight's celebratory balls. He ducked into the Oval Office along with Vice President Pence and White House Chief of Staff Priebus and some others. And he signed an order directing government agencies to ease the burdens of Obamacare while this new administration and Congress work towards repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Now, it's not clear exactly what kinds of relief that executive order envisions. The new president also signed some paperwork for the first two members of his Cabinet who were confirmed by the Senate this afternoon, and then Vice President Pence swore in the new defense secretary, James Mattis, and the new Homeland Security secretary, John Kelly.

SIEGEL: Now, the new White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is also issuing a memo tonight that calls for a freeze on government regulations. What does that entail?

HORSLEY: That's right. He's directing all government agencies to freeze new regulations. And this is just part of the way in which the incoming Trump administration plans to undo what it sees as overregulation over the course of the Obama administration. They have talked about rolling back regulations that limit fossil fuel production and carbon pollution.

And we also saw another change in a small way earlier today when the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, halted a planned reduction in mortgage interest premiums that outgoing HUD secretary Julian Castro had ordered just 11 days ago. That premium cut was supposed to take effect later this month and would have saved affected families about $500 a year. But the incoming HUD secretary - or nominee for HUD secretary, Ben Carson, said he was surprised by that.

So within an hour of the swearing-in this afternoon, the FHA came out and said, hold on; we're going to suspend that rate cut. And it's just a small example of the way that the new administration plans to set a very new direction for the government.

SIEGEL: Scott, as of today, the actual White House is under new management. But this being the 21st century, the virtual White House is also under new management. Tell us about what's new at whitehouse.gov.

HORSLEY: Yeah, the whitehouse.gov website got its own digital makeover at the stroke of noon today. Most of the old Obama-era content disappeared, and we saw a whole new set of issues dear to the Trump administration taking its place. So if you go to whitehouse.gov now, you see the American First Energy Plan and the America First foreign policy - things like that.

Also at noon today, we saw all of the official White House Twitter handles taken over by the incoming members of the administration. That's important because as we know, Twitter has been a vital source of communication for Donald Trump. Not all the makeovers, though, were digital today.

We've also seen some changes in the decor of the Oval Office itself - new drapes on the windows, a new rug underfoot and a bust of Winston Churchill which gave way to a bust of Martin Luther King during the Obama years is now back. Winston Churchill has a place of honor in the Oval Office.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Scott Horsley. Thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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