A flurry of big decisions out of the Obama administration just weeks before President-elect Donald Trump takes office has rekindled Republican concerns about President Obama’s plans for jamming through so-called “midnight regulations” and other leftover items from his wish-list on his way out the door.
In the last week alone, the Obama administration blocked future oil and gas leases in swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans; granted a record number of pardons and commutations for a single day; and scrapped a dormant registry for male immigrants from a list of largely Muslim countries.
Defense officials told Fox News there is an effort underway to transfer up to 22 additional detainees out of Guantanamo Bay. And Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations stunned Israel on Friday by abstaining on a Security Council measure condemning settlement activity, allowing it to pass.
And Obama still has a month left in office. The most recent announcements were made while the first family was on vacation in Hawaii – leaving unclear what Obama has in store for when he gets back to Washington.
Hanging over any final actions is the likelihood that Trump, once in office, will roll back many of them. “The things he’s done this week will be turned around,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said of Obama on “Fox News Sunday.” “He’s in this desperate frenzy.”
But Democrats are urging the outgoing president to pursue further actions, as the administration weighs its next steps.
Among the possibilities:
- Sixty-four House Democrats recently asked Obama to use his pardon power to preserve his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which spared millions of illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation. Led by Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., the lawmakers asked Obama in a letter to “exercise your Constitutional authority to provide pardons to young people who are American in every way but on paper.” The goal is to make it more difficult for Trump to potentially deport them.
- The White House already has teed up the strong possibility of more clemency for nonviolent drug offenders and others. After Obama pardoned 78 people and granted another 153 commutations on Monday, White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said he expects “more grants of both commutations and pardons before [Obama] leaves office.”