What Is the Difference between an Executive Order and an Executive Agreement

When it comes to the legal documents used by the United States government, two terms that often get confused are executive orders and executive agreements. While they may seem similar on the surface, there are important differences between the two.

Executive orders are directives issued by the President of the United States that have the force of law. They are used to give guidance to federal agencies and departments on how to implement policies and laws. Executive orders can only be issued by the President and are not subject to review or approval by Congress.

Executive agreements, on the other hand, are agreements made between the President and a foreign government or international organization. They are used to establish and enforce policies and agreements on a range of issues, including trade, defense, and technology. Unlike executive orders, executive agreements require the approval of Congress in certain cases, such as when they involve major international agreements or require changes to U.S. law.

One key difference between executive orders and executive agreements is their scope. Executive orders are typically used to address domestic issues, whereas executive agreements usually involve foreign policy and national security. For example, an executive order might be used to implement a new policy on immigration or healthcare, while an executive agreement might be used to establish a trade agreement with a foreign country.

Another important difference is the way in which they are enforced. Executive orders are enforced by federal agencies and courts, while executive agreements are enforced through diplomatic channels and international organizations. This means that the consequences of violating an executive order or executive agreement can be quite different.

Overall, while executive orders and executive agreements may seem similar, they are two distinct legal documents that serve different purposes. Understanding the differences between them is important for anyone interested in government policy and the legal system.