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Methods of Presidential PowerComments

Methods of Presidential Power

Executive Orders

Executive orders: presidential directives that create or modify laws and public policies, without the direct approval of Congress.

a) Not explicitly granted in Constitution

b) Allows president to unilaterally establish policies within the Executive Branch or bureaucracy. This includes federal buildings -- such as George Bush changing light bulbs for energy efficiency. Money for this typically is from a pool set aside for the executive branch. Executive orders may be performed without Congressional involvement.

c) Executive orders allow the president to act quickly and decisively

(1) May be overturned by congressional bill or court challenge.

Executive Agreements

Executive Agreements (EA) similar to executive order but applied to foreign policy. For example, Bush's negotiations with Iraq over the stay of US troops in Iraq is an example of an executive agreement in process.

Congressional-Executive Agreements (CEA) are executive agreements ratified by authorization of Congress. This is frequent in trade relations, where Congress authorizes the executive branch to pursue certain trade policies.

c) Reciprocal Trade Agreements

Congressional delegations of power

a) Delegation of powers: the process by which Congress gives the executive branch the additional authority needed to address new problems.

Signing Statements

There are three types of signing statements:

  1. Non-controversial, such as Rhetorical: mobilize political constituencies.
  2. Somewhat controversial (a) To define vague terms in the law to guide executive agencies in its implementation as written. These allow president to tell executive branch how to interpret laws.
  3. Very Controversial signing statements assert that a law is constitutionally defective. The president then instructs executive agencies to ignore provisions allegedly unconstitutional. These can be considered functional equivalents of line item vetoes.