Can Congress Overturn Executive Orders?

Can Congress Overturn Executive Orders

In America, an executive order is a directive issued by the American President. It is for managing the operations of the federal government. The constitutional basis for the executive order has several sources. For instance, Article Two of the American Constitution empowers the president with executive and enforcement powers at his discretion. This is to determine the way and manner to enforce the law or manage federal resources. The ability of the President to make such an order is on the Acts of Congress which gives the president some measure of discretionary powers.

Can congress overturn executive orders?

No, they cannot. The only thing they may be able to do is to sue the government to the court. They will be stating that the government has the president has gone beyond his authority. This can also be a very complicated process because whoever issuing should have a standing in the issue. Some have stated that the legislature does not. There are three ways via which an executive order can get overturned and they all hardly ever succeed. The first is that the president may change, supersede ad revoke and executive order. Also, Congress may revoke an executive order if and only if the President was acting with the authority that given by Congress. Finally, the courts may declare an executive order as illegal.

What Is The Basis Of An Executive Order?

Like regulations created by government agencies, executive orders go to judicial review. This means that they may get overturned if the order does not have the support of the constitution. Several policy initiatives need the approval of congress. But in the case of executive orders, they often have a huge effect on the internal affairs of government. Some reach includes waging of wars, handling emergencies, the degree which legislation will get enforced and the likes. Only the President is the Head of state and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of America can issue such an order.

Also, once an executive order issued, they remain in full force until when they get revoked, canceled or expire. The President may at any time change, revoke or make exceptions from an executive order. This is regardless of whether the order got made by the sitting president or the one before. A sitting president often reviews the executive orders made within his initial weeks in office.

What Is The Constitutional Basis Of An Executive Order?

The American constitution does not make an explicit provision for the use of executive orders. Article 2 of the Constitution states that the executive order willl be with the American President and Sections 2 and 3 of the same article describes the various duties and powers of the president. One such is that the President must ensure that the laws get executed. A ruling from the Supreme Court states that every executive order from the President has to have constitutional support. There have been times in the past when the order got blocked. This is when the order goes beyond the authority of the President.

The office saddled with the responsibility of assigning a serial number to an executive order is the Office of the Federal Registrar. This is after the receipt of the signed copy from the White house.

What Are Executive Actions And What Do They Do

Note that the two most important executive actions are the executive order and the executive memorandum. An executive order is a statement written by the president to instruct government officials and government agencies. It is always signed by the president and approved by the office of the Attorney General and the Management and Budget. An executive order has the power and effect of law by the legislature except in a situation where it gets contradicted by another Federal law that gets passed. This means that a President can use an executive order to bypass the bureaucratic bottlenecks that Congress sometimes posses.

But, an executive memorandum is like an executive order, only that it does not have the same requirements. Also, unlike an executive order which has to get signed and published, an executive memorandum does not have any known formal process. Also, it does not need the approval of the office of the Attorney General and Management and Budget. It also does not have to get recorded by the Federal Registrar.

One major avenue where executive orders come in handy is in Military operations. Being the Commander-in-Chief, the President gets tasked with the responsibility of running the military and as such may use executive action for setting military policy. Also, executive orders may gets used to draw up strategies. An instance of this is when President Obama came up with an executive order in the case of the Clean Water Act. It detailed the strategy of the federal government to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

What Are The Ways Via Which An Executive Order May Get Terminated?

There are several ways via which an executive order can get terminated. A sitting president may rescind an executive order that got issued by him or a president before. This is usually the case when a new president comes into office with His policy objectives. One example of this scenario is when President Donald Trump issued an executive order about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Also, Congress may override and an executive order by eliminating the funding required for the operation. Note that while an executive order may have the force of Federal Law, it is still subject to any federal law that contradicts it. It is always quite difficult to override an executive order and it is not common. This is because it may get vetoed by the President and due to the partisan nature of politics these days, it would be impossible to gather a two-thirds majority to veto the decision of the President.

The final way an executive order may get vetoed is in a court of competent jurisdiction especially if the president acts beyond his authority when it gets issued. This can be quite difficult to determine because when the President issues such an order, he usually links his authority to different sources.

How Many Times Has Congress Overturned A Presidential Order In The Past?

Congress has hardly overturned Presidential Vetoes since the creation of the United States. In the case where Congress sends a bill to the president for his assent and he chooses to veto it, the legislature may override this decision. This is by using a two-thirds majority in the Senate and House. It means that the bill can become a law without the approval of the President.

Note that about 40 percent of all presidential vetoes starting from 1789 down to 2004 happened to be pocket vetoes. This usually happens when a president decides he doesn’t want to sign a bill sent to his desk by Congress. If Congress is not in Session, it then becomes a law.

Does the American constitution give executive orders power

It is a fact that Presidents have been churning out executive orders since the United States got founded. This does not mean that the constitution grants explicit power. The instruments of the executive memorandum, executive orders, and proclamations are not captured by the American Constitution.

What are the executive orders carried out by Donald Trump

Between 1789 and 1907, American Presidents had issued a total of 2,400 executive orders. Since 1908, there have been a total of 13,700 executive orders thus showing the growth in the powers of the President over the years. Usually, new Presidents sign some executive orders within the first few weeks of being sworn in. this is to direct the agencies they are taking over from. President Donald Trump broke a record set by Barack Obama when he signed 14 executive orders which were one more than Obama did.

What Are State Executive Orders?

The executive orders issued by State Governors are not the same as statues that passed by their legislature. They have similar force as the federal system. The state executive orders are often based on the existing statutory powers or existing constitutional powers. They usually do not need any state legislative action to take effect. Such executive orders may, for instance need budget cuts from the state government in a period when the legislature is not in session. It happens when there is an economic issue and ensures that there is a decrease in tax revenue below the projections when the budget got approved.

The governor may opt to determine the percentage which each agency will reduce and also determine which of the agencies would get exempted. There are also times when the governor may call the legislature into a special session.


Checks and balances are part of the reasons why democracy is the best system of government in the world today. If a president could have his way on all issues, it means that he will do all within his power to make the country to conform to his image. We have been able to establish the three ways in which an executive order may get overturned and the fact that it may be quite difficult.

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