Project 2025

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Project 2025
PurposePlan to reshape the U.S. federal government to support the agenda of Republican Party president
Location
Director
Paul Dans
Main organ
Mandate for Leadership
Parent organization
The Heritage Foundation
Budget
$22 million[1]
Websitewww.project2025.org Edit this at Wikidata

Project 2025, also known as the Presidential Transition Project, is a collection of conservative policy proposals from The Heritage Foundation to reshape the U.S. federal government in the event of a Republican victory in the 2024 U.S. presidential election.[2][3] Established in 2022, the project aims to recruit tens of thousands of conservatives to the District of Columbia to replace existing federal civil servants—whom Republicans characterize as part of the "deep state"—and to further the objectives of the next Republican president.[4] It adopts a maximalist version of the unitary executive theory, a disputed interpretation of Article II of the Constitution of the United States,[5][6] which asserts that the president has absolute power over the executive branch upon inauguration.[3][7]

Project 2025 envisions widespread changes across the government, particularly economic and social policies and the role of the federal government and its agencies. The plan proposes slashing funding for the Department of Justice (DOJ), dismantling the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), sharply reducing environmental and climate change regulations to favor fossil fuel production, eliminating the Department of Commerce, and ending the independence of federal agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).[8][9] The blueprint seeks to institute tax cuts,[10] though its writers disagree on the wisdom of protectionism.[11] Project 2025 recommends abolishing the Department of Education, whose programs would be either transferred to other agencies, or terminated.[12][13] Funding for climate research would be cut while the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be reformed along conservative principles.[14][15] The Project urges government to explicitly reject abortion as health care[16][17] and eliminate the Affordable Care Act's coverage of emergency contraception.[18] The Project seeks to infuse the government with elements of Christianity.[19][20] It proposes criminalizing pornography,[21] removing legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,[21][22] and terminating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs,[4][22] as well as affirmative action.[23]

Project contributor Jeffrey Clark advises the future president to immediately deploy the military for domestic law enforcement and direct the DOJ to pursue Donald Trump's adversaries by invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807.[24][25] The Project recommends the arrest, detention, and deportation of undocumented immigrants.[26] It promotes capital punishment and the speedy "finality" of such sentences.[27] Project director Paul Dans, explained that Project 2025 is "systematically preparing to march into office and bring a new army, aligned, trained, and essentially weaponized conservatives ready to do battle against the deep state."[28][29] Dans admitted it was "counterintuitive" to recruit so many to join the government to shrink it, but pointed out the need for a future president to "regain control" of the government.[4] Although the project cannot by law promote a specific presidential candidate, many contributors have close ties to Trump and his 2024 campaign.[6][30]

Critics of Project 2025 have described it as an authoritarian Christian nationalist movement[19] and a path for the United States to become an autocracy. Several experts in law have indicated that it would undermine the rule of law and the separation of powers.[8] Some conservatives and Republicans also criticized the plan, for example in the contexts of centralizing power,[4] climate change,[31] and foreign trade.[11]

Background

Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts established the Project in 2022.
Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, established Project 2025 with the goal of "building a governing agenda, not just for next January but long into the future."[32]

The Heritage Foundation has been publishing new editions of its Mandate for Leadership series in schedules that run parallel with each presidential election since 1981.[33] Heritage refers to its Mandate as a "policy bible".[33]

Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts established Project 2025 in 2022 to provide the 2024 Republican presidential nominee with a personnel database and ideological framework,[34] after civil servants refused to support Trump during his attempt to institute a Muslim travel ban, his effort to install a new attorney general to assist him in his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, and his calling for the use lethal force, saying "When the looting starts, the shooting starts" during the George Floyd protests.[35]

In April 2023, the Heritage Foundation published the 920-page Mandate written by hundreds of conservatives,[36] most prominently former Trump administration officials.[3] Nearly half of the project's collaborating organizations have received dark money contributions from a network of fundraising groups linked to Leonard Leo, a major conservative donor and key figure in guiding the selection of Trump's federal judge nominees.[30]

Axios reported that while Heritage had briefed other 2024 Republican presidential primaries candidates on the project, it is "undeniably a Trump-driven operation", pointing to the involvement of Trump's "most fervent internal loyalty enforcer" Johnny McEntee as a senior advisor to the project. The 2024 Trump campaign said no outside group speaks for the former president, referring to its "Agenda 47"[37] as the only official plan for a second Trump presidency.[38] Two top Trump campaign officials later issued a statement seeking to distance the campaign from what unspecified outside groups were planning, although many of those plans reflected Trump's own words. The New York Times reported the statement "noticeably stopped short of disavowing the groups and seemed merely intended to discourage them from speaking to the press".[39] Nevertheless, the campaign said it was "appreciative" of suggestions from like-minded organizations.[40] Project 2025 is not the only conservative program with a database of prospective recruits for a potential Republican administration, though the leaders of these initiatives all have connections to Donald Trump.[41][42]

The two officials released a similar memo days later, after Axios reported Trump intended to staff a new administration with "full, proud MAGA warriors, anti-GOP establishment zealots, and eager and willing to test the boundaries of executive power to get Trump's way", which would include targeting and jailing critics in government and media.[43] Axios also reported on people being considered for senior positions in a second presidency, which included Kash Patel, Steve Bannon, and Mike Davis, a former aide to senator Chuck Grassley who has promised a "three-week reign of terror" should Trump name him acting attorney general.[44] Patel had said on Bannon's podcast two days earlier, "We will go out and find the conspirators – not just in government, but in the media ... We're going to come after you. Whether it's criminally or civilly, we'll figure that out."[45][46]

Advisory board and leadership

Donald Trump at a campaigning event in New Hampshire in January 2024
Project 2025 is linked to Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign.

Project 2025's advisory board consists of "a broad coalition of over 80 conservative organizations"—mainly conservative think tanks, as well as several universities and the magazine The American Conservative.[47] As of February 2024, the project has over 100 partner organizations.[48]

Notable authors of the project's Mandate for Leadership include many officials and advisors from the Trump administration, including Jonathan Berry, Ben Carson, Ken Cuccinelli, Rick Dearborn, Thomas Gilman, Mandy Gunasekara, Gene Hamilton, Christopher Miller, Bernard McNamee, Stephen Moore, Mora Namdar, Peter Navarro, William Perry Pendley, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Kiron Skinner, Roger Severino, Hans von Spakovsky, Brooks Tucker, Russell Vought, and Paul Winfree.[49]

Vought was named policy director of the Republican National Committee platform committee in May 2024.[50]

The leaders of this project began recruiting people for future government posts in the event of a Republican victory at the 2023 Iowa State Fair.[51]

Policies

Philosophical outlook

By the final third of the twentieth century, the nuclear family had ceased to be the most common type of household in the United States.
Restoring the centrality of the nuclear family in American life is a recurring theme of Project 2025.[40]

In the Mandate's foreword, Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts writes, "The long march of cultural Marxism through our institutions has come to pass. The federal government is a behemoth, weaponized against American citizens and conservative values, with freedom and liberty under siege as never before."[52] Roberts interprets the phrase "pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence as "pursuit of blessedness." According to him, "an individual must be free to live as his creator ordained—to flourish." The Constitution of the United States, he argues, "grants each of us the liberty to do not what we want, but what we ought."[53]

Key to a good life "is found primarily in family—marriage, children, Thanksgiving dinners and the like,” he writes, and, above all, in "religious devotion and spirituality."[53] Roberts complains that the United States in 2024 is a place where "inflation is ravaging family budgets, drug overdose deaths continue to escalate, and children suffer the toxic normalization of transgenderism with drag queens and pornography invading their school libraries."[40]

Project 2025's director is Paul Dans, who served as chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management during the Trump administration. Spencer Chretien, a former special assistant to Trump, serves as associate director.[54] Dans, also an editor of the project's guiding document, explains that Project 2025 is "built on four pillars":

  1. a 30-chapter, 920-page book called Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, which presents "a consensus view of how major federal agencies must be governed";
  2. a personnel database to "be collated and shared with the President-elect's team", open to the public for submissions;
  3. an "online educational system" called the Presidential Administration Academy; and
  4. a "playbook" designed for "forming agency teams and drafting transition plans to move out upon the President's utterance of 'so help me God.'"[55]

In November 2023, Trump made a similar proposal to create a federally funded "American Academy" that would deliver online courses and grant free degrees that excluded "wokeness or jihadism". The plan would also be funded by taxing the endowments of major universities which he asserted were "turning our students into communists and terrorists and sympathizers of many, many different dimensions."[56][57]

While Project 2025 cannot by law explicitly promote him,[58][59] Trump's campaign rhetoric has reflected its broad themes. He stated, "If I happen to be president and I see somebody who's doing well and beating me very badly, I say go down and indict them."[60] He added that he would fire "radical Marxist prosecutors that are destroying America."[61] He has said he would "totally obliterate the Deep State" and appoint "a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the entire Biden crime family."[61]

In order to be admitted to the "2025 Presidential Transition Project Talent Database," a potential recruit must answer a number of detailed questions pertaining to his or her political views. A social recruit's social-network accounts will be scrutinized.[38]

Census citizenship question

The project seeks to revive a Trump administration effort to include a question of whether an individual counted in the decennial U.S. census is an American citizen. The census population count is used to reapportion congressional seats and the Electoral College. The Trump administration publicly argued it wanted the new question to prevent racial and language discrimination under the Voting Rights Act, an argument the U.S. Supreme Court found to be contrived in rejecting the question for the 2020 census. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the congressional apportionment figures must include the "whole number of persons in each state", rather than citizens.[62][63]

Christian nationalism

A Trump supporter carries a QAnon-tagged placard with Jesus wearing a MAGA hat at the moment the U.S. Congress was violently attacked by rioters on January 6, 2021. (The placard is blurred for reasons of copyright.)
A Trump supporter carries a QAnon-tagged placard with Jesus wearing a MAGA hat at the moment the U.S. Congress was violently attacked by rioters on January 6, 2021.[64] (The placard is blurred for reasons of copyright.)

As the leader of the Center for Renewing America, Project 2025 contributor Russell Vought has spearheaded an effort to instill precepts of Christian nationalism into government and public life should Trump win a second term. In a 2021 opinion piece, Vought wrote Christian nationalism "recognizes America as a Christian nation" but makes "a commitment to an institutional separation between church and state, but not the separation of Christianity from its influence on government and society." For Vought, "Christians are under assault" and he sought to use his regular contacts with Trump to "elevate Christian nationalism as a focal point" should Trump be re-elected as President of the United States. Vought has close ties with another former Trump administration official, Christian nationalist William Wolfe, who, in an online manifesto, seeks to implement a Bible-based system of government whereby "Christ-ordained civil magistrates" exercise authority over the American public.[65]

Former Christian nationalist Brad Onishi, who now studies religion and extremism, noted in February 2024 that Lance Wallnau of the New Apostolic Reformation, who has said Trump was "anointed," had recently announced he was partnering with Charlie Kirk, a Project 2025 member. Onishi observed that Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has direct ties to the New Apostolic Reformation.[19][66][20][67][68]

In his 2024 campaign speeches, Donald Trump has echoed various aspects of Project 2025, including the promotion of Christian nationalism.[69]

Climate change mitigation

Shale plays and basins can be found across the continental United States.
Shale basins in the contiguous United States. Project 2025 promotes further exploitation of fossil fuel resources.
Petroleum, natural gas, and coal constitute the majority of U.S. energy in 2021, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA).
The major sources of energy in the United States, 2021

Project 2025 advises a future Republican president to go further than merely nullifying President Joe Biden's executive orders on climate change.[36] It proposes abandoning strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change, including by repealing regulations that curb emissions, downsizing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and abolishing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which the project calls "one of the main drivers of the climate change alarm industry."[31][70][71][72]

In particular, the EPA's Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights would be closed,[53][73] and the EPA's staff, including the science advisor, to be selected based in managerial skills rather than scientific qualifications.[53] States would be prevented from adopting stricter regulations on vehicular emissions, like California has done.[31] Regulations on the fossil fuel industry would be relaxed as well.[14] For example, restrictions on oil drilling imposed by the Bureau of Land Management would be removed.[71]

Heritage Foundation energy and climate director Diana Furchtgott-Roth has suggested that Americans consume more natural gas, despite concerns among climatologists that this would increase leaks of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) in the short term.[31] Project 2025's blueprint includes repealing the Inflation Reduction Act, which offers US$370 billion for clean technology, closing the Loan Programs Office and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations at the Department of Energy, eliminating climate change mitigation from the agenda of the National Security Council, and encouraging allied nations to use fossil fuels.[31][53]

The blueprint declares that the federal government has an "obligation to develop vast oil and gas and coal resources" and supports Arctic drilling.[31][53] Under this blueprint, the expansion of the national grid would be blocked and the transition towards renewable energy stymied.[36] Mandy Gunasekara, a contributor to the project, acknowledges the reality of human-made climate change, but considers it to be politicized and overstated.[74] On the other hand, project director Paul Dans only accepts that climate change is real, but rejects the possibility of human activities causing it.[31]

Project 2025 would reverse a 2009 finding from the EPA that determined that carbon dioxide emissions are harmful to human health, preventing the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.[31][36] It further recommends incentives for members of the general public to "to identify scientific flaws and research misconduct" and to legally challenge research in climatology.[36] The climate section of the report was written by several authors, including Mandy Gunasekara, the EPA's former chief of staff who considers herself principal to the United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017. Bernard McNamee, a lawyer who has advised several fossil fuel companies, drafted the section of Project 2025 describing the EPA's role. Four of the report's top authors have publicly engaged in climate change denial.[31][36] McNamee dismisses climate change mitigation as "progressive" policy.[36]

Economy

China, Mexico, Vietnam, Germany, Japan, and Ireland had the largest trade surpluses with the U.S. in 2021. The Sino-American trade war did not curtail U.S. trade deficits overall.
U.S. foreign trade deficits from 1997 to 2021. Countries shown had a trade surplus of over $50 billion with the U.S. in 2021. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Project 2025 provides a range of options for economic reform which vary in their degree of radicalism. It is critical of the Federal Reserve, which it blames for the business cycle, and advocates for free banking and/or commodity-backed currency such as a gold standard. It recommends eliminating full employment from the central banking system's mandate, instead focusing solely on targeting inflation.[55][75]

U.S. public debt as a share of GDP over time

The project seeks to extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[10] More specifically, it recommends simplifying individual income taxes to just two brackets, one 15% and the other 30%,[10] with the latter applying to income above the Social Security Wage Base "to ensure the combined income and payroll tax structure acts as a nearly flat tax on wage income beyond the standard deduction."[55] It aims to reduce the corporate tax rate to 18%, describing it as "the most damaging tax" in the country.[55] It seeks to impose a tax on capital gains and dividends at 15%, compared to a proposed 45% rate by the Biden administration. After these reforms are implemented, it recommends that a three-fifths vote threshold be required to pass legislation that would increase individual or corporate income tax, to "create a wall of protection" for these tax reforms,[55] despite a general consensus that the enforcement of legislation which binds a subsequent Congress is unconstitutional.[76] Moreover, a rigorous study published in 2024 by economists Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, Matthew Smith, Owen M. Zidar, and Eric Zwick reveals that while the 2017 tax cuts did indeed spur investments, not just in the United States, but also internationally, they came at the cost of raising the national debt.[77][78]

Project 2025 suggests the abolition of Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the Department of Commerce, and, if that proved impossible, the EDA should instead assist "rural communities destroyed by the Biden administration’s attack on domestic energy production."[53] It also seeks to facilitate innovations in the civilian nuclear industry.[26]: 9 

It declares that "God ordained the Sabbath as a day of rest" and recommends legislation requiring Americans to be paid more for working on that day.[53]

Project 2025 is split on the issue of foreign trade.[75] On one hand, Peter Navarro advises higher tariffs to reciprocate the European Union, China, and India to order to achieve a balance of trade, though it is not always true that American levies are lower those of other major trading partners.[11] An analysis by Goldman Sachs suggests that Trump's protectionism could generate enough revenue to cover the tax cuts he and his supporters want; Trump's tariffs might even have a meaningful effect on inflation and economic growth.[10] On the other hand, Kent Lassman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute promotes lowering tariffs to cut costs for consumers and more free-trade agreements.[11] Lassman argues that Trump and Biden's tariffs have undermined not just the American economy but also the nation's international alliances.[10] Imposing tariffs with the intention of economically decoupling from China and benefiting the working class is one of the few things Trump and Biden agree on.[79]

Education and research

A school lunch tray with all the MyPlate food groups recommended by the Department of Agriculture. They are carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
A school lunch tray with all the MyPlate food groups recommended by the Department of Agriculture. Project 2025 would eliminate free school meals.

A major concern for Project 2025 is what it calls "woke propaganda" in public schools.[75] In response, it envisions a dramatic reduction of the role of the federal government in education and the elevation of school choice and parents' rights.[12] To achieve that goal, it proposes the elimination of the Department of Education and giving states the ability to opt out of federal programs or standards. Programs under the Individuals with Disabilities' Education Act (IDEA) would be instead administered by the Department of Health and Human Services while the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) would become part of the Census Bureau.[12]

The federal government, according to Project 2025, should be no more than a statistics-keeping organization. Federal enforcement of civil rights in schools would be significantly curtailed, and such responsibilities would be transferred to the Department of Justice, but the DOJ would only be able to enforce the law through litigation. The federal government would no longer investigate schools for signs of disparate impacts of disciplinary measures on the basis of race or ethnicity. Project 2025 explicitly rejects the "pursuit of racial parity in school discipline indicators—such as detentions, suspensions, and expulsions—over student safety."[12]

A federal fund worth $18 billion for low-income students (Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) would be allowed to expire,[12] with responsibilities be transferred to the states.[13] Public funds for education would be available with no strings attached, as school vouchers, even for parents sending their children to private or religious schools.[12] Free school meals and the Head Start program would be eliminated.[13] For the backers of this project, education is a private rather than a public good.[12] Project 2025 also criticizes any programs to forgive student loans.[80]

Project 2025 encourages the future president to ensure that "any research conducted with taxpayer dollars serves the national interest in a concrete way in line with conservative principles."[53][55]: 686  For example, research in climatology should receive considerably less funding in line with Project 2025's views on climate change.[14]

Expansion of presidential powers

"The notion of independent federal agencies or federal employees who don’t answer to the president violates the very foundation of our democratic republic," argued Kevin D. Roberts.[3] Project 2025 seeks to place the entire Executive Branch of the U.S. federal government under direct presidential control, eliminating the independence of the DOJ, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and other agencies.[3] The plan bases its presidential agenda on a maximalist version of the unitary executive theory, arguing that Article Two of the U.S. Constitution vests executive power solely in the president.[34]

Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, stated in 2019 that Article Two of the U.S. Constitution granted him the "right to do whatever as president", a common claim made by supporters of unitary executive theory. A similar remark was echoed in 2018 when he claimed he could fire special counsel Robert Mueller.[34] Trump is not the first president to consider policies related to unitary executive theory;[81][82] the idea has seen a resurgence and popularization within the Republican Party following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.[83]

In November 2023, The Washington Post reported that deploying the military for domestic law enforcement under the Insurrection Act would be an "immediate priority" upon a second Trump inauguration in 2025. That aspect of the plan was being led by Jeffrey Clark, a Trump co-defendant in the Georgia election racketeering prosecution and an unnamed co-conspirator in the federal prosecution of Trump for alleged election obstruction. Clark is a senior fellow at the Center for Renewing America, a Project 2025 partner.[84] The plan reportedly includes directing the DOJ to pursue those Trump considers disloyal or political adversaries. After the Post story was published online, a Heritage spokesman said there were no plans related to the Insurrection Act or targeting of political enemies within Project 2025.[24][85]

Throughout the project document, unspecified federal workers at the DOJ, EPA, and USAID are described as "radical Left ideologues" and "activists" who are "embedded" in their departments.[55] In response to rising concerns on the topic, during a December 2023 televised town hall in Davenport, Iowa, Fox News host Sean Hannity twice asked Trump if he could assure he would not abuse presidential power to seek retribution against others, as he was reported to have privately told to friends and advisers.[46] Trump replied "except for day one" before pivoting to other subjects.[86]

Foreign affairs

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken participates in a flag-raising ceremony for Finland at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Project 2025 would pressure NATO member states to increase their military spending in order to confront threats from Russia.

Project 2025 proposes that all Department of State employees in leadership roles should be dismissed by the end of the day on January 20, 2025. It calls for installing senior State Department leaders in "acting" roles that do not require Senate confirmation.[87]

Kiron Skinner, who wrote the State Department chapter of Project 2025, ran the department's office of policy planning for less than a year during the Trump administration, before she was forced out of the department. She considers most employees of the State Department to be too left-wing and wants them replaced by those more loyal to a conservative president. When asked by Peter Bergen in June 2024 if she could name an instance in which State employees obstructed Trump policy, she said she could not.[88][89]

Skinner considers Communist China to be a major threat, and is critical of any conciliatory move towards that country.[90]

If Project 2025 were to be implemented, Congressional approval would not be required for the sale of military equipment and ammunition to a foreign nation,[4] unless "unanimous congressional support is guaranteed."[53] The Mandate argues that the United States should only maintain its nuclear umbrella for member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and that these countries should be responsible for deploying their own conventional forces to deter Russian aggression.[53]

Works of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would be dramatically curtailed due the Heritage Foundation's distaste for what it calls the agency's "divisive political and cultural agenda that promotes abortion, climate extremism, gender radicalism, and interventions against perceived systemic racism." The word "gender" would be systematically purged from all USAID programs and documents. Project 2025 indicates specific United Nations agencies to be defunded and suggests the President be given more power to allocate U.S. foreign aid.[91] Such aid will be not be allocated for helping poorer countries address the impact of climate change; rather, it will be devoted to advancing the interests of fossil fuel companies.[14]

Journalism

Project 2025 proposes the reconsideration of accommodations provided to journalists who are members of the White House Press Corps.[4]

Healthcare and public health

Project 2025 accuses the Biden administration of undermining the traditional nuclear family and wants to reform the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) so that this household structure is promoted.[18] According to Project 2025, state governments should have the authority impose stricter work requirements for beneficiaries of Medicaid,[23] the federal government should promote the Medicare Advantage program, which consists of private insurance plans,[55]: 464–65  federal healthcare providers should deny gender-affirming care to transgender people, and eliminate insurance coverage of the morning-after-pill Ella required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare).[18] Project 2025's healthcare plan would also remove Medicare's ability to negotiate drug prices.[18]

Project 2025 aims at dramatically reforming the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by making it easier to fire employees and to remove DEI programs. Conservatives consider the NIH to be corrupt and politically biased.[15]

Project 2025 accuses social media networks—directly naming Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok—of jeopardizing the mental health and social ties of young Americans by creating a form of addiction. "Federal policy cannot allow this to continue," it states.[55]: 5–6 

Immigration reforms

Stephen Miller, known for his anti-immigration views, was and remains a key figure in forming Trump's immigration policy.
Stephen Miller, known for his anti-immigration views, was and remains a key figure in forming Trump's immigration policy.

The Mandate of Leadership suggests abolishing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and replacing it with an immigration agency that incorporates Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and elements of the departments of Health and Human Services and Justice.[53][92] Other tasks could be privatized.[92] The admission of refugees would be curtailed, and processing fees for asylum seekers would increase, something the Project deems "an opportunity for a significant influx of money."[53] Immigrants who wish to have their applications fast-tracked would have to pay even more.[75]

Donald Trump has stated that if reelected he would immediately "begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history."[93] Heritage stated in April 2024 that Project 2025 policy includes "arresting, detaining, and removing immigration violators anywhere in the United States."[26]

Stephen Miller, a key architect of immigration policy during the Trump presidency, is a major figure in Project 2025 and under consideration for a senior role in the possible re-election of Trump.[38] Miller told Project 2025 participant Charlie Kirk in November 2023 that the operation would rival the scale and complexity of "building the Panama Canal." He said the operation would include deputizing the National Guard in red states as immigration enforcement officers, under Trump's command. These forces would then be deployed into blue states.[94]

Miller was considering deputizing local police and sheriffs for the undertaking, as well as agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration. He said these forces would "go around the country arresting illegal immigrants in large-scale raids" who would then be taken to "large-scale staging grounds near the border, most likely in Texas" to be held in internment camps prior to deportation. Trump has also spoken of rounding up homeless people in blue cities and detaining them in camps.[94] Funding for the border wall with Mexico would increase.[75]

Project 2025 encourages the President to withhold federal disaster relief funds granted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should state or local governments refuse to abide by federal immigration laws, by, for example, not sharing information with law enforcement.[92]

Issues of identity

Project 2025 attacks what it calls the "radical gender ideology"[80] and promotes the ideal that the government should "maintain a biblically based, social-science-reinforced definition of marriage and family."[53] To achieve this end, it proposes the recognition of only heterosexual men and women, the removal of protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender identity, and the elimination of provisions pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)—what it calls "state-sanctioned racism"—from federal legislation.[21][22][95] Federal employees who have participated in DEI programs or any initiatives involving critical race theory might be fired.[53] Public school teachers who want to use (transgender) students preferred pronouns would have to obtain written permission from their parents.[80] The backers of Project 2025 also want to target the private sector by reversing "the DEI revolution in labor policy" in favor of more "race neutral" regulations.[95] Project 2025 is part of the intensifying backlash against DEI of the early 2020s.[95]

The White House's Gender Policy Council would be disbanded.[53] Government agencies would be forbidden from instituting quotas and collecting statistics on gender, race, or ethnicity.[53][95] Project contributor Jonathan Berry explains, "The goal here is to move toward colorblindness and to recognize that we need to have laws and policies that treat people like full human beings not reducible to categories, especially when it comes to race."[95] The U.S. Census Bureau would be reformed along conservative principles.[53]

Law enforcement

Robert Mueller was former FBI director and Special Counsel investigating Trump's alleged ties with Russia.
The DOJ and the FBI are considered problematic by Project 2025 because of the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was formerly the director of the FBI, into Donald Trump.

In the view of Project 2025, the Department of Justice has become "a bloated bureaucracy with a critical core of personnel who are infatuated with the perpetuation of a radical liberal agenda" and has "forfeited the trust" of the American people due to its role in the investigation of alleged Trump-Russia collusion. As such, it must be thoroughly reformed and be tightly overseen by the White House. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) must be personally accountable to the President as well.[53]

A DOJ reformed along the recommendations of Project 2025 would combat "affirmative discrimination" or "anti-white racism," citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Former DOJ official under then President Trump, Gene Hamilton argues that "advancing the interests of certain segments of American society... comes at the expense of other Americans—and in nearly all cases violates longstanding federal law."[96] As such, the DOJ's Civil Rights Division would "prosecute all state and local governments, institutions of higher education, corporations, and any other private employers" with DEI or affirmative action programs.[23]

Legal settlements called "consent decrees" between the DOJ and local police departments would be curtailed.[97] According to Project 2025, if the responsibilities of the FBI and another federal agency, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were to overlap, then the latter should take the lead, leaving the FBI to concentrate on (other) serious crimes and threats to national security.[97]

Project 2025 acknowledges that capital punishment is a sensitive matter, but nevertheless promotes it to deal with what it considers to be an ongoing crime wave and for "particularly heinous crimes" such as pedophilia until Congress legislates otherwise.[27]

Like Trump, Project 2025 believes that the District of Columbia is infested with crime and as such suggests authorizing the Secret Service's Uniformed Division to enforce the law outside of the White House and the immediate surroundings.[92]

National security

Banning of TikTok on government devices by U.S. state or state government agency.
  Ban enacted by Republican official
  Ban enacted by Democratic official
  Ban enacted by government agency
  No ban

If implemented, Project 2025 would require the Pentagon to abolish its DEI (diversity, equity, and, inclusion) programs and immediately reinstate all service members discharged for not getting vaccinated against COVID-19.[4] The United States Armed Forces would not be authorized to take climate change into account when examining threats to national security.[14]

Project 2025 considers Communist China to be a serious threat due to its influence in American society, and recommends the prohibition to the highly popular social network TikTok (which it accuses of espionage) and the Confucius Institutes (which it accuses of corrupting American higher education). The Project also expresses concern over Chinese intellectual property theft and accuses Big Tech of acting on the behalf of the Chinese Communist Party to undermine the United States.[55]: 9–13 

Outlawing pornography

In the foreword of Project 2025's Mandate, Kevin Roberts argues that pornography amounts to promoting sexual deviancy, the sexualization of children, and the exploitation of women. For Roberts, it is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and as such should be banned. He recommends the criminal prosecution of individuals and companies producing pornography, which he compares to addictive drugs.[21] Previously, the Supreme Court has ruled against attempts to ban pornography on the grounds that it was protected by the First Amendment.[98]

When he was nominated as the official presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 2016, Donald Trump signed a pledge to examine the "public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families and the American culture." However, he did not fulfill this promise. But despite former President Trump's connection to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, Roberts is unencumbered. "We understand our lord works with imperfect instruments, including us. While on the surface it seems like a contradiction, on the whole, it may make him a more powerful messenger if he embraces it," he explained to CNN.[98]

Personnel change

Project 2025 establishes a personnel database shaped by the ideology of Donald Trump. The project uses a questionnaire to screen potential recruits for their adherence to the project's agenda.[1][99] Throughout his presidency, Trump was accused of removing individuals whom he considered disloyal regardless of their ideological conviction, such as former attorney general William Barr. In the final year of Trump's presidency, White House Presidential Personnel Office employees James Bacon and John McEntee developed a questionnaire to test potential government employees on their commitment to Trumpism; Bacon and McEntee joined the project in May 2023.[100] The project recommends that the future White House Counsel be selected to be "deeply committed" to the "America First" agenda of the future President.[4][34]

Project 2025 is aligned with Trump's plans to fire more government employees than allocated to the president using Schedule F, a job classification established by Trump in an executive order in October 2020. Although the classification was rescinded by Biden in January 2021, Trump has previously stated that he would restore it. The Heritage Foundation plans on having 20,000 personnel in its database by the end of 2024.[34] Russell Vought stated that the project's goal of removing federal workers would be "a wrecking ball for the administrative state."[101]

As of 2024, only about 4,000 government positions are deemed political appointments, which could change with each administration.[4][34] Schedule F would jeopardize tens of thousands of professional federal civil servants,[4] who have spent many years working under both Democratic and Republican administrations.[34] In an interview, Kevin Roberts said, "People will lose their jobs. Hopefully their lives are able to flourish in spite of that. Buildings will be shut down. Hopefully they can be repurposed for private industry."[102]

The Project encourages Congress to require federal contractors to be 70% American citizens, ultimately raising the limit to 95%.[53]

Reproductive issues

Demonstrators protesting the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court in June 2022. One protest sign reads, "Grab them by the ballot box."
The Supreme Court's ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson (2022), which overturned Roe v. Wade (1973), made abortion a likely issue for the 2024 presidential election.[103]
Data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the teenage birth rate (per 1,000 females) in the United States has been falling for most years since the early 1990s.
The number of abortions in the United States has been on the decline since the 1980s.
The number of abortions in the United States has been on the decline since the 1980s.
The teenage birth rate (per 1,000 females) in the United States has been falling for most years since the early 1990s, mostly due to abstinence and greater use of contraception (including long-term methods like an intrauterine device, or IUD) rather than abortion.[104][105]

Project 2025 insists that life begins at conception.[18] The Mandate states that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should "return to being known as the Department of Life," as Trump HHS secretary Alex Azar had nicknamed it in January 2020, voicing his pride in being "part of the most pro-life administration in this country's history." Project 2025 says it would reposition department policies "by explicitly rejecting the notion that abortion is health care and by restoring its mission statement under the [Trump HHS] Strategic Plan and elsewhere to include furthering the health and well-being of all Americans 'from conception to natural death'."[16][106][107] Although the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022) that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion, thereby leaving it to the states to create their own legislation on this matter, Project 2025 encourages the next President "to enact the most robust protections for the unborn that Congress will support."[53]

Roger Severino, Heritage Foundation vice president of domestic policy, told a Students for Life conference that Project 2025 was "working on those sorts of executive orders and regulations" to roll back abortion policies of the Joe Biden administration and "institutionalize the post-Dobbs environment."[17] For example, the Reproductive Healthcare Access Task Force, created by the Joe Biden administration would be replaced by a dedicated "pro-life" agency that would "use their authority to promote the life and health of women and their unborn children."[53] However, the project opposes any initiatives that, in its view, subsidizes single parenthood.[19] Project 2025 encourages the next administration to rescind some of the provisions Title X of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, which offers reproductive healthcare services, and to require participating clinics to emphasize the importance of marriage to potential parents.[108]

Severino writes in the project's manifesto that the Food and Drug Administration is "ethically and legally obliged to revisit and withdraw its initial approval" of the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol.[55] He also recommends that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "update its public messaging about the unsurpassed effectiveness of modern fertility awareness-based methods" of contraception,[55] such as smartphone applications that could track a woman's menstrual cycle.[108] Severino says that the HHS should require that "every state report exactly how many abortions take place within its borders, at what gestational age of the child, for what reason, the mother's state of residence, and by what method."[55] The project also seeks to restore Trump-era "religious and moral exemptions" to contraceptive requirements under the Affordable Care Act, including emergency contraception (Plan B), which it deems to be an abortifacient,[109][18] to defund Planned Parenthood,[19] and to remove protection of medical records involving abortions from criminal investigations if the owners of said records cross state lines.[18] Project 2025 contributor Emma Waters told Politico, "I’ve been very concerned with just the emphasis on expanding more and more contraception." According to her, the policies proposed by Project 2025 constitute not restrictions but rather "medical safeguards" for women.[108] Waters also said she wanted the NIH to investigate the long-term effects of contraception.[108]

In Project 2025's "Department of Justice" section, Gene Hamilton calls for enforcement of federal law against using the U.S. Postal Service for transportation of medicines that induce abortion.[55] Project 2025 seeks to revive provisions of the Comstock Act of the 1870s that banned mail delivery of any "instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing" that could be used for an abortion. Comstock laws have been narrowed by Congress and courts over ensuing years, including to allow contraceptives to be delivered by mail. Project 2025 aims to enforce Comstock more rigorously at the national level to prohibit sending abortion pills and medical equipment used for abortions through the mail; the plan would allow criminal prosecutions for the senders and receivers of abortion pills.[17][110] While Project 2025 does not explicitly promote the prohibition of abortion,[75] some legal experts and abortion rights advocates said the adoption of the Project plan would cut off access to medical equipment used in surgical abortions to create a de facto national abortion ban.[111][112]

For his part, former president and Presidential candidate Donald Trump has not committed to a federal prohibition of abortion, knowing that public opinion is against it.[18]

Regarding the issue of preventing teenage pregnancy, Project 2025 advises the federal government to deprecate what it considers to be promotion of abortion and high-risk sexual behaviors among adolescents. It also seeks to remove the role of the Department of Health and Human Services in shaping sex education in the United States, arguing that this is tantamount to creating a monopoly.[55]: 477 

Transportation

Project 2025 recommends the curtailing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021, which authorizes funding for de-carbonizing transportation infrastructure.[113] It also holds negative views of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), accusing it of being a waste of money, and suggests cutting federal funding for transit agencies across the nation in the form of the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program. It wants the FTA to conduct "rigorous cost–benefit analysis" even though the agency already scrutinizes projects before allocating funding.[114]

Reactions

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a scholar of fascism and authoritarian leaders at New York University, wrote in May 2024 that Project 2025 "is a plan for an authoritarian takeover of the United States that goes by a deceptively neutral name." She asserts that the Project's intent of abolishing federal departments and agencies "is to destroy the legal and governance cultures of liberal democracy and create new bureaucratic structures, staffed by new politically vetted cadres, to support autocratic rule." She continues:

Appropriating civil rights for white Christians furthers the Trumpist goal of delegitimizing the cause of racial equality while also making Christian nationalism a core value of domestic policy. Doing away with the separation of church and state is the goal of many architects of Trumpism, from Project 2025 contributor Russ Vought to far-right proselytizer Michael Flynn, who uses the idea of "spiritual war" as counterrevolutionary fuel ... Bannon, Roberts, Stephen Miller, and other American incarnations of fascism are convinced that counterrevolution leading to autocracy is the only path to political survival for the far right, given the unpopularity of their positions (especially on abortion) and their leader's boatload of legal troubles.[115]

Donald B. Ayer, the deputy attorney general under George H. W. Bush, said,

Project 2025 seems to be full of a whole array of ideas that are designed to let Donald Trump function as a dictator, by completely eviscerating many of the restraints built into our system. He really wants to destroy any notion of a rule of law in this country ... The reports about Donald Trump's Project 2025 suggest that he is now preparing to do a bunch of things totally contrary to the basic values we have always lived by. If Trump were to be elected and implement some of the ideas he is apparently considering, no one in this country would be safe.[8]

Michael Bromwich, who was Justice Department inspector general from 1994 to 1999, remarked,

The plans being developed by members of Trump's cult to turn the DOJ and FBI into instruments of his revenge should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cares about the rule of law. Trump and rightwing media have planted in fertile soil the seed that the current Department of Justice has been politicized, and the myth has flourished. Their attempts to undermine DOJ and the FBI are among the most destructive campaigns they have conducted.[8]

Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service and others voiced concern that the project would revive the early-American spoils-and-patronage system that awarded government jobs to those loyal to a party or elected official, rather than on the basis of merit. The Pendleton Act of 1883 mandated that federal jobs be awarded on merit.[116] Former Trump campaign and presidency senior advisor Steve Bannon has advocated the plan on his War Room podcast, hosting Jeffrey Clark and others working on the project.[8] Georgetown University public policy professor Donald Moynihan wrote that Schedule F appointees could be required to swear loyalty to the president, in conflict with their constitutional obligation to swear a loyalty oath to the U.S. Constitution.[117]

Peter M. Shane, a law professor who writes about the rule of law and the separation of powers, wrote:

The [New York] Times quotes Vought's impatience with conservative lawyers in the first Trump administration who were unwilling to do Trump's bidding without hesitation. Criticizing the timidity of traditional conservative lawyers, Vought told the Times: "The Federalist Society doesn't know what time it is." As for making the Justice Department an instrument of White House political retribution, Vought would unblinkingly jettison the norm of independence that presidents and attorneys general of both parties have carefully nurtured since Watergate. "You don't need a statutory change at all, you need a mind-set change," Vought told the [Washington] Post. "You need an attorney general and a White House Counsel's Office that don't view themselves as trying to protect the department from the president."[52]

Dartmouth College professor Jeff Sharlet is the author of the 2023 The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War. After years traveling to meet with Trump supporters, he writes that his initial "objections to describing militant Trumpism as fascist have fallen away."[118] He asserts Project 2025 is influenced by the New Apostolic Reformation, a rapidly-growing evangelical and charismatic movement aligned with Trump. Sharlet contends that the Project's first mandate to "restore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children" is "Q-coded—it's 'protect the blood,' it's the 14 words, it's all this stuff."[119]

Francis Fukuyama, a political scientist, noted that while the federal bureaucracy was in dire need of reform, Schedule F would "dangerously undermine" the functionality of the government.[120]

Spencer Ackerman in The Nation and Chauncey DeVega of Salon.com have described Project 2025 as a plan to install Trump as a dictator, warning that Trump could prosecute and imprison enemies or overthrow American democracy altogether.[121][122] Longtime Republican academic Tom Nichols wrote in The Atlantic that Trump "is not bluffing about his plans to jail his opponents and suppress—by force, if necessary—the rights of American citizens."[123]

Writing in Mother Jones, Washington bureau chief David Corn described Project 2025 as "the right-wing infrastructure that is publicly plotting to undermine the checks and balances of our constitutional order and concentrate unprecedented power in the presidency. Its efforts, if successful and coupled with a Trump (or other GOP) victory in 2024, would place the nation on a path to autocracy."[124]

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, the author of Just Faith: Reclaiming Progressive Christianity, criticized Project 2025 in an MSNBC article for appealing to Christian nationalism. In particular, Graves-Fitzsimmons criticized Severino's chapter on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and his opposition to the Respect for Marriage Act, a landmark law that repealed the Defense of Marriage Act and codified the federal definition of marriage to recognize same-sex and interracial marriage.[125]

Project 2025 has been criticized by LGBTQ+ writers and journalists for its intended removal of protections for LGBTQ+ people and declarations to outlaw pornography by claiming it as an "omnipresent propagation of transgender ideology and sexualization of children".[21] Writing for Dame magazine, Brynn Tannehill argued that "The Mandate for Leadership" in part "makes eradicating LGBTQ people from public life its top priority", while citing passages from the playbook linking pornography to "transgender ideology", arguing that it related to other anti-transgender attacks in 2023.[126]

Republican climate advocates have disagreed with Project 2025's climate policy. Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy president Sarah Hunt considered supporting the Inflation Reduction Act crucial, and Utah representative John Curtis stated it was vital that Republicans "engage in supporting good energy and climate policy". American Conservation Coalition founder Benji Backer noted growing consensus for belief that climate change is human-induced among younger Republicans and called the project wrongheaded.[31]

Responding to criticism of the Project, in April 2024 Heritage released a 13-page document entitled, "5 Reasons Leftists HATE Project 2025." Restating many of its previously published objectives, the document also asserted:[26]

  • "The radical Left hates families" and "wants to eliminate the family and replace it with the state."
  • Leftist "elites use the 'climate crisis' as a tool for scaring Americans into giving up their freedom."
  • "The radical Left wants our country to travel down [the] same dark path" toward becoming the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Cuba.
  • "Woke propaganda" should be eliminated at every level of government.

Democratic congressman Jared Huffman announced the formation of The Stop Project 2025 Task Force in June 2024. He warned that the Project would hit "like a Blitzkrieg" and that "if we're trying to react to it and understand it in real time, it's too late. We need to see it coming well in advance and prepare ourselves accordingly."[127][128]

See also

References

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