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What is an Executive Order?

Less than a week into his presidency, Donald Trump has made judicious use of executive orders.


Here, imirasire.com News looks at what they are, what their limitations are, and how previous presidents have used them.

What is an executive order?
An executive order is a document signed by the president that directs government agencies and departments to do certain things.

It is legally binding, and written into the Federal Register which is a daily record of all federal regulations, proposals, and public notices.

Generally, executive orders are used to avoid having to go through Congress and risk the policy being struck down.

What are the checks and balances on Executive Orders?
While there is no real check or balance on executive orders before they are enacted, Congress can decide to restrict funding for specific policies if it sees fit to.

Congress can also write and enact laws that explicitly prevent executive orders from being effective.

Congress can indirectly prevent executive orders from being effective.

What are the limits to Executive Orders?
Executive orders can be instated or reversed by any president, which means some orders tend to be political footballs that get enacted and then rolled back.

For example, Barack Obama used one to start the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which gave people brought to the US illegally as children temporary legal status. Donald Trump can reverse this order very quickly and easily, by rolling it back.

While an executive order is legally binding, they are limited and not as broad as a piece of legislation that has been passed by Congress.

Orders cannot reverse a law passed by Congress either.

What executive orders has Trump already signed?
In his few days in office, President Trump has already signed several executive orders:

- An order imposing a hiring freeze across federal government, excluding the military

- An order to begin withdrawing the US from the TPP trade deal

- Two orders reviving two pipelines, Keystone XL and Dakota Access

- An order directing agencies to ease "regulatory burdens" of the Affordable Care Act

- He is also expected to issue an executive order for the construction of the US Mexico border wall, and to curb immigration

How many executive orders did previous presidents issue?
Former president Barack Obama was criticised for his use of executive orders, which he used when he did not want to have to go through a Republican-controlled Congress.

Obama signed 276 executive orders during his eight years in office.

George Bush signed 291, and Bill Clinton signed 364. By far the heaviest user of Executive Orders was President Franklin Roosevelt, who signed 3,721 during his presidency.

Jimirasire

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