Q: We will soon have a new president and, clearly, he will seek to undo at least some of what President Donald Trump has done. Can President-elect Joe Biden simply end Trump’s executive orders?

-M.O., Tustin

Ron Sokol

A: Executive orders are directives issued by the president with regard to operations of the federal government. They do not carry the same weight as an act of Congress enacted into law. For example, The Dreamers program (formally known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and abbreviated DACA) was instituted by former President Barack Obama as an executive order, which Trump subsequently reversed. In turn, once Biden officially is president, he can end, modify or reverse executive orders issued by Trump. This does not mean the changes necessarily are immediate; regulations already in place based on the prior executive order(s) may have to be modified and the impact of Biden’s actions will, in at least some instances, no doubt take time to become a reality.

Q: Once out of office, does Trump get secret service and any salary as an ex-president?

-M.T., Hermosa Beach

A: It is interesting to note that prior to 1958, the federal government did not provide pensions or other retirement benefits to former presidents. The Former Presidents Act (of 1958) was enacted at a time when there were two former living presidents, Herbert Hoover and Harry S. Truman, but it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who became the first president to have coverage under the act once he left office. Former presidents are entitled to secret service protection for their lifetime. A former president is also paid a taxable pension (as of 2020, that was $219,200 per year). A former president’s spouse may also receive a lifetime annual pension of $20,000, if the spouse relinquishes any other statutory pension. Transition funding for the costs of leaving office is available for seven months, and includes office space, staff compensation, communications services, and postage and printing that is part of the transition. Private office staff and related funding is provided by the administrator of the General Services Administration, with a maximum allotment that varies over time. In addition, a former president is entitled to medical treatment in military hospitals, at interagency rates established by the Office of Management and Budget. Two-term presidents are entitled to purchase health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program.

Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at ronsesq@gmail.com.

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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