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As Democratic President Joe Biden signs many executive orders in his first few months in office, many Republicans have rebuked him for issuing the presidential orders instead of relying on Congressional actions. That includes Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who was critical of Biden’s April 7 order on gun control measures.
“There’s not been another president I don’t think in history that has implemented the number of executive orders that this president has implemented,” Reynolds said on WHO-AM 1040 radio April 8.
Pat Garrett, Reynolds’ spokesman, referred The Gazette to a Jan. 27 PolitiFact fact-check of a Jan. 22 video tweeted by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Rubio said in the video that Biden “has issued more executive fiats than anyone in such a short period of time, ever, more than Obama, more than Trump, more than anyone.” PolitiFact said Rubio’s claim, which came two days after Biden’s inauguration, was true.
It cited data from the Office of the Federal Registrar that showed more executive orders — 17 — from Biden than former President Barack Obama’s two and former President Donald Trump’s one in his first two days in office.
Records are not as clear about executive orders from presidents before President Franklin D. Roosevelt. John Woolley, the co-director of the nonpartisan American Presidency Project at the University of California-Santa Barbara, told PolitiFact that previous presidents “simply did not charge into office as prepared for action” and likely did not issue as many orders as Biden in his first few days.
Reynolds did not give a specific time frame for her claim in the radio appearance. Garrett said in an email it was during “the early stages of his presidency.”
While Reynolds’ claim would’ve been entirely correct in January, Biden’s pace of executive actions had slowed by the time Reynolds made the claim April 8 on the radio.
The American Presidency Project tracks the pace of executive actions from each president in their first 100 days, starting with FDR. For all of January and February, Biden outpaced all other presidents for “executive orders, memoranda and substantive proclamations.” But about 60 days into his presidency — before Reynolds’ April 8 comments — the pace of actions no longer exceeded FDR.
FDR had 3712 executive orders over about 12 years, which averages out to about 307 orders per year. He took office during the Great Depression and was in office for most of World War II.
The American Presidency Project also tracks “executive orders, memoranda and all proclamations,” which includes symbolic proclamations such as Biden declaring a National Public Health Week or National Volunteer Week.
When including those symbolic proclamations, Biden still has more executive actions than any of the presidents tracked.
While the exact timing of executive orders from presidents before FDR is murky, the American Presidency Project tracks executive orders per year for all 46 presidents.
Biden is at pace to ink 160 executive orders per year, according to the American Presidency Project’s data last updated April 20. Six presidents — Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover and Roosevelt — had more executive orders per year.
But Biden’s projected 160 executive orders per year is well above Trump’s 55 and Obama’s 35.
At one time, this claim would’ve gotten an A, but Reynolds’ information was outdated. Reynolds still is close, though. We give this claim a B.
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This Fact Checker was researched and written by John Steppe of The Gazette.