Federal legislation in 2015 was plagued by the same congressional gridlock that President Obama has faced throughout most of his presidency. The President has therefore turned to executive action to achieve many of his goals over the past seven years and we expect this trend to continue with gusto in 2016.  Below is a summary of our predictions for 2016’s executive orders and agency action.

Expected Action: Executive Orders in 2016

On January 5, President Obama announced several executive orders seeking to expand background checks and place new licensing requirements on gun show and online gun dealers. During the State of the Union address on January 12, the President expressed his frustrations with stalled immigration reform and corporate influence in politics.  Throughout the remainder of his term, the President might take action on a variety of issues affecting employers nationwide, including:

  • Implementing 2014 Immigration Orders extending work permits to certain undocumented workers. The Fifth Circuit held [pdf] in November 2015 that a federal district court properly blocked the Department of Homeland Security from implementing Obama’s immigration plan, opening the door for Supreme Court review. If the High Court grants the Obama Administration’s certiorari petition and reverses the injunction order, the President will be able to substantively implement a sizable chunk of his long-stalled immigration reform.
  • Improving job portability for beneficiaries of employment-based visa petitions. President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security announced proposed changes to its regulations on this immigration issue, among others, on December 31, 2015. The comment period for the Proposed Rule extends through February 29.
  • Restricting Citizens United and its progeny by requiring contractors to disclose certain political contributions. President Obama has a longstanding and vocal opposition to this case and its effect on corporate political expenditures. The President stated on January 12 during the State of the Union address that he has had a difficult time working with republicans “making sure the system’s not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations.”

It is likely the President’s policies will extend beyond his own executive orders to the federal agencies under his administration, our predictions to be summarized tomorrow in Part 2.