Bush Blocks Clinton Executive Orders, Imposes Govt. Hiring Freeze

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - President George W. Bush wasted no time Saturday moving to block late executive orders issued by his predecessor, Bill Clinton. The last series of those orders and rules by Clinton will not be printed in the federal register, effectively blocking their implementation.

Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card issued a memorandum calling on heads and acting heads of executive branch departments and agencies to "send no proposed or final regulation to the Office of the Federal Register unless and until a department or agency head appointed by the president, after noon on January 20, 2001, reviews and approves the regulatory action."

The memorandum would make allowances for "emergency or other urgent situations relating to health and safety."

As for Clinton's executive orders not yet published in the federal register, Card's memo ordered federal agencies to "temporarily postpone the effective date of the regulations for 60 days."

The executive order review will be overseen by the Office of Management and Budget.

Card's memo concluded, "in the interest of sound regulatory practice and the avoidance of costly, burdensome or unnecessary regulation, independent agencies are encouraged to participate voluntarily in this review."

Insiders say the new administration is especially concerned about Clinton's executive orders dealing with environmental protections and Medicare guidelines.

Shortly after taking office in 1993, then President Clinton moved to block several orders that former President George H.W. Bush had implemented during the closing days of his administration.

Bush also instituted a federal government hiring freeze in his first day on the job.

According to a memorandum issued by Card, "no decision relating to hiring shall be made unless and until such decision is reviewed and approved by a department or agency head appointed by the president. Every agency head will be instructed to develop a plan to permit the agency to meet the president's goal of reducing management ranks."

Bush also issued what are being called "Standards of Official Conduct," which call on executive branch employees to avoid "financial interests" that conflict with their jobs, and to refuse gifts from anyone seeking official action or business with the administration.

The first two standards say "Public Service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain. Employees should not hold financial interests that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty."

When Clinton took office, he declared he would have "the most ethical administration in history." And he forced his political appointees to promise that they would refrain from lobbying and trade activities for five years once they had left government service. However, in late December, only weeks before the end of his presidency, Clinton revoked the ethics order.