If you are a fan of politics and the law, then you’ve probably heard of executive orders and wondered, do executive orders have to be approved by Congress?
The United States President issue executive orders, and almost every president has issued at least one.
William Harrison is the only United States president that has never given an executive order since he only spent a month in office before his death.
Executive orders neither create new laws nor give the president new powers. Let’s learn more about the executive order and see if it requires congressional approval.
So, Do Executive Orders Have To Be Approved By Congress?
No. Executive orders do not have to be approved by Congress. It isn’t legislation, and therefore Congress doesn’t have to approve them.
Congress can challenge an executive order by removing its funding. The judiciary can also stop an executive order by rendering it unconstitutional.
What Is An Executive Order?
To better understand an executive order, we must start by understanding the legislative branch of the government. The United States Constitution gives Congress the ability to write and pass legislation.
Congress can put forward a piece of legislation in a bill form. The bill will go through many committees and revisions before house and senate members can vote.
If the bill gets a majority vote, Congress will send it to the president for signature. Once the president signs the bill, it will then become law.
Additionally, an executive order is a document the president issues without permission or consultations from Congress.
Even though executive orders are enforced like laws, they can be subject to judicial review. The judiciary ensures that executive orders are within the constitution’s limits.
That means that the judiciary can invalidate the president’s executive decisions. Therefore, an executive order is a rule that the president makes. The order will tell federal government agencies what they must do.
When Does A President Use An Executive Order?
In some cases, a president might feel the urge to exert power without Congress’s assistance, and in crisis times, he needs to justify quick decisions. Most executive orders are in response to emergencies.
Some executive orders are often directed to federal government agencies to contract or expand their power. Other executive orders may determine the extent of enforcing the legislation.
The president can also use an executive order to clarify and assist in implementing a policy that requires easy definition.
The Impact of Executive Orders in American History
Some famous executive orders have greatly impacted the course of American history. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd US president, gave an executive order to set up the Works Progress Administration.
This executive order assisted in constructing a lot of roads and bridges throughout America. The Work Progress Administration also employed many sculptors, painters, writers, and artists to create art in public spaces.
Furthermore, Harry S. Truman, the 33rd US president, issued an executive order to unify the armed forces.
In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th Us President, issued an executive order to set up requirements for non-discriminatory practices in hiring and employment.
Negative Uses Of Executive Order
Presidents often use executive orders in positive and inclusive ways. But they’ve also used it to divide and exclude. A notable example is Franklin Roosevelt’s executive order issued in 1942.
He offered the military authority to target Italian, Japanese, and German Americans. The executive order was also responsible for removing any of those people into a zone for the military (Commonly referred to as internment camps).
Matter Covered By The Executive Order
As the federal government has grown over the years, the scope of the executive orders has followed. Executive orders have a big effect on the internal affairs of the United States government. In many cases, they will determine how and to what degree they will enforce the legislation.
Executive orders will also describe how the country should deal with certain emergencies and wars. Some of the issues covered by the executive order include:
- The Economy
- And The International
War powers Act gives the president the authority to command the US-Military to engage in conflicts for up to 60 days without Congress’s involvement.
A good example includes the Obama administration’s involvement in Syria. Also, the trumps involvement in Yemen and the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Here Are Some Challenges That Faces The Executive Orders
Even if the executive order does not require congressional approval, there are still several ways to challenge it.
The Judicial Branch
The judicial branch can stop the president’s executive order in a judicial review process. The judicial review can declare the president’s executive order constitutional or unconstitutional.
All executive orders by the president must be in favor of the constitution. It is so because the constitution does not allow anyone to be above the law.
A good example of an executive order challenge is when president trump’s travel ban got temporarily revoked by a federal court. However, the Supreme Court later found it to be constitutional.
Congress can also challenge executive orders. The house and senate can pass legislation to invalidate the law used as justification.
Nevertheless, the president can veto it. Therefore, Congress will have to override that veto to pass the bill.
The problem is that getting a two-thirds majority of Congress to override a presidential veto is quite difficult.
This legislative branch can also withdraw funding to the executive branch, making it impossible for the president to enforce executive orders. It is so as presidential orders need a lot of funding to be successfully executed.
Subsequent Executive Orders
The last way to challenge executive orders is through subsequent executive orders. It will mostly happen when a new president gets into power.
The new president can counteract an executive order to challenge an executive order issued in the past by other presidents.
A prominent example includes the Mexico City policy and the Paris climate agreement. The Mexico City policy provides that government cannot use federal funding on abortion or abortion advocation in other countries.
When a republican president is elected, they enact this executive order, and when a Democratic president is elected, they repeal it. The Paris climate agreement could follow this pattern too.
It is evident as the Democratic president Joe Biden released an executive order to join the Paris agreement as soon as he got into power.
The Paris agreement is an international pact aiming to curb carbon emissions that lead to global warming.
Another executive order was to join the World Health Organization to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Another executive order by President Joe Biden was to promote racial equity, in which he ordered his government to carry out an equity assessment of agencies.
All these executive orders attempt to counter previous executive orders that other presidents issued.
Since two-thirds of the senate did not approve it, it is not legally a treaty. Presidents can join and leave executive agreements as they see fit.
What Powers Does The Executive Order Hold?
An Executive order holds the power of federal law. President may use it to make organizations and committees. A good example is when President John F. Kennedy used an executive order to create a peace corp. Executive orders also have the power to manage federal operations.
Is A presidential Memorandum Same As An Executive Order?
With the knowledge of executive orders, you might wonder if presidential memorandums are the same as executive orders. Executive orders are quite similar to memoranda. It is because presidents can use memos to control government operations.
The only difference is that, unlike executive orders, the government doesn’t number the presidential memos when they publish them on the Fed register.
As we talk about presidential memos, we must discuss the presidential proclamation. They are statements that will address the public on the matter of policy. They are symbolic, and the government does not enforce them as laws.
Which President Issued The Most Executive Orders?
In the history of executive orders, three presidents issued only one executive order. They were John Adams, James Monroe, and James Madison. George Washington only had eight.
The first jump of executive orders came in the post-civil war era when Abraham Lincoln issued forty-eight executive orders.
Andrew Johnson issued seventy-nine executive orders, and Ulysses grant issued 217 executive orders.
Theodore Roosevelt issued more than a thousand executive orders. However, Franklin D Roosevelt holds the record as he issued more than 3721 executive orders over 12 years. That is an average of 307 executive orders per year.
The US constitution displays some ambiguity on the scope of the president’s powers, leaving many to wonder whether executive orders have to be approved by Congress. That has brought about an increase in the number of executive orders over time.
Thus, since Lyndon Johnson, presidents have issued executive orders to set up federal agencies and eliminate scientific research barriers. There exist balances and checks in the United States’ political system.
Congress can pass bills to counter the president’s executive orders if they do not agree with them. Judges can also stop executive orders by declaring them unconstitutional.
But it takes a long to do so, and an order can go into effect and transform the course of history for better or worse.