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Trump-proofing? Obama makes last-minute moves

President Barack Obama has banned millions of acres of federally-owned land in the Arctic and the Atlantic Ocean from offshore oil and gas drilling. Elaine Thompson/Associated Press/File/Associated Press

President Barack Obama on Tuesday banned millions of acres of federally-owned land in the Arctic and the Atlantic Ocean from offshore oil and gas drilling, a move experts say is likely to be challenged by incoming president Donald Trump, but unlikely to be quickly reversed.

It’s just the latest step the Democratic administration has taken since the election to enact rules and policies in the president’s final days in power, including on key issues where Obama and Trump, a Republican, disagree.

Experts told the New York Times this week that it’s not unusual for outgoing presidents to try to enact new measures in their last weeks in office, and they said that so far Obama’s last-minute moves have not been as plentiful as those of Democrat Bill Clinton during his final days as president. (Obama still has about a month before Trump’s inauguration.)


Here are some of the things Obama has done post-election:

• Last week, Obama issued a rule, which takes effect two days before Trump’s inauguration, barring states from withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates and other health clinics that provide abortions, the Times reported. Any attempt to repeal the rule would require a time-consuming process.

• Also this month, the Army announced it would look for an alternative route for the controversial Dakota Access pipeline that was originally designed to run near a Native American reservation, raising concern among tribe members and environmental activists. Trump has said that if the issue has not been resolved by the time he’s in office, he wants it resolved quickly and that he generally supports the pipeline’s construction. It’s unclear whether he wants to see it built to the original design or if he would accept an alternative route.

• The Obama administration also recently finalized rules under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal law on education, another topic where the president and president-elect don’t see eye to eye. The rules focused on determining whether schools were succeeding or failing under the law, according to a report from the McClatchy newspaper chain’s Washington bureau.


• Obama has also appointed new people, or renewed appointments, to a slew of boards and commissions, according to McClatchy. And he’s granted pardons and commutations to federal inmates.

Some measures Obama has taken during his presidency, such as executive orders, could be overturned immediately by Trump, if he wants, McClatchy reported.

“Others will be much more difficult, requiring justification to pass legal hurdles or buy-in from lawmakers on Capitol Hill or foreign leaders,” the outlet said. “Still, Obama needs to be careful he doesn’t push out last-minute actions subject to a rarely used law, [the] Congressional Review Act, designed to prevent so-called midnight regulations.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mrochele