executive order

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An executive order is declaration by the president or a governor which has the force of law, usually based on existing statutory powers. They do not require any action by the Congress or state legislature to take effect, and the legislature cannot overturn them.  For example, in anticipation of the Gulf War, President George H. Bush signed Executive Order 12724, which prohibited transactions with Iraq and summarily transferred ownership of Iraqi government property in the United States to the United States government. The executive order was issued pursuant to Congressional statutes, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act.

Recent presidential executive orders, memoranda, and proclamations are available here.  Virtually all presidential executive orders are published in the Federal Register.  

[Last updated in November of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]


Presidential actions and statements from the current administration: