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How Is An Executive Order Different From A Law

Updated on February 04, 2009
Executive Order to put all Japanese-Americans into camps during World War II.
Executive Order to put all Japanese-Americans into camps during World War II.

With our former president Bush, there was certainly a lot of argument over the scope of executive orders. Many people aren't clear on how executive orders work, so I decided to make this page to help them understand better.

There are some things only Congress can do. Only congress can pass taxes. Only congress can create a budget. Only congress can (supposedly) declare war. But there are many other powers that were alloted to the president, although most presidents don't use all of them. One such freedom is the ability to give executive orders.

These orders carry the full weight of the executive branch.  They can matter a great deal in terms of policy.  While a law passed by congress and the president will override an executive order, most presidents will simply veto any legislation that would affect their orders.

An interesting point about executive orders is how temporary they are, at the whim of the President almost.  Barack Obama instantly undid quite a few of Bush's executive orders when he took over.  Undoubtedly, Obama's successor will be able to do the same.  

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