Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Panel focuses on transition and first 100 days of Trump’s administration

New law and rule-making shape new White House, Congress, says panelists

Panel focuses on transition and first 100 days of Trump’s administration

AU President Neil Kerwin speaks at "The Transition and 100 First Days in the New Administration," a panel hosted by the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies on Tuesday, Jan. 23. 

The Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, an initiative within AU’s School of Public Affairs, hosted a campus panel discussion on Tuesday, Jan. 23 to discuss the White House’s transition and what to expect from Congress in the next four years.

The event, called “The Transition and 100 First Days in the New Administration,” brought together President Neil Kerwin, AU professors and other government experts to a packed room filled with federal employees and AU staff members, professors and students.

Within the first 100 days of our new administration, Kerwin said it is “a lot to expect much common ground for a while, but as the day-to-day grind of government begins to take over, I expect to see better discourse.”

“There has to be a coming together no matter what your ideology is,” he said.

Transition and first 100 days

President Donald Trump’s plan to make sweeping changes to the federal government will be “difficult,” Martha Joynt Kumar, the director of the White House Transition Project, said. She noted that in 1980, President Ronald Reagan started with “thirteen departments and wanted to cut the Department of Energy and Education.” But instead, he created the Department of Veterans Affairs, she said.

However, this year’s new administration experienced a different kind of transition than the presidents of the past, Kumar said.

A new law, the Presidential Transitions Improvement Act of 2015 was “very helpful” for the 2016’s presidential candidate’s transition team, Kumar said. The law was designed to ease the transfer of power from one president to another.

“When someone starts a new job at the White House it is as if they are hoping onto a moving train,” Kumar said.

Despite receiving help from outside organizations in addition to Kumar’s efforts, the challenge right now for Trump’s leadership is transitioning from the head of a political party with a “particular constituency - and then becoming the president of all the people,” she said.

However, Trump’s administration has already shown signs of severe impact on all levels of the government, aligning with some of his campaign promises. With a Republican-led Congress, Kerwin said that many vacant lower federal court seats may be filled with judges who will back the White House’s agenda.

The next four years

“We need to pay close attention to how much the new administration will want to control federal agencies,” Kerwin said. Will Trump’s administration “deregulate or take action?”

Other panelists, such as AU’s Professor Howard McCurdy from the School of Public Affairs, said that government-funded projects are important for safety across the U.S.

We are on the “cusp of self-driving cars” becoming more prevalent as a safe means of everyday travel, McCurdy said. Car “fatalities will drop to nil” once the government supports more science and technology initiatives.

sdolezal@theeagleonline.com


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