On Friday, March 16, Barack Obama signed the “National Defense Resources Preparedness” Executive Order, authorizing his administration to begin “under both emergency and non-emergency conditions,” … ” to employ persons of outstanding experience and ability without compensation,” and to retain other individuals and organizations with specialized knowledge or abilities, or otherwise important to the adminstration.
Even more worrisome, Sec. 308 of the E.O. authorizes administration officials to ” procure and install … equipment, facilities, processes, or improvements to plants, factories, and other industrial facilities … owned by private persons.
Executive Orders (EOs) are legally binding orders given by the President, acting as the head of the Executive Branch, to Federal Administrative Agencies. Executive Orders are generally used to direct federal agencies and officials in their execution of congressionally established laws or policies. However, in many instances they have been used to guide agencies in directions contrary to congressional intent.
Executive Orders do not require Congressional approval to take effect but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress. The President’s source of authority to issue Executive Orders can be found in the Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution which grants to the President the “executive Power.” Section 3 of Article II further directs the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” To implement or execute the laws of the land, Presidents give direction and guidance to Executive Branch agencies and departments, often in the form of Executive Orders.
Executive Orders are controversial because they allow the President to make major decisions, even law, without the consent of Congress. This, of course, runs against the general logic of the Constitution — that no one should have power to act unilaterally. Nevertheless, Congress often gives the President considerable leeway in implementing and administering federal law and programs. Sometimes, Congress cannot agree exactly how to implement a law or program. In effect, this leaves the decision to the federal agencies involved and the President that stands at their head. When Congress fails to spell out in detail how a law is to be executed, it leaves the door open for the President to provide those details in the form of Executive Orders.