By Amy Feldman

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – At the State of the Union address, President Obama vowed to break through the Congressional gridlock by getting measures passed by Executive Order rather than by waiting for Congress to act, a statement that made people saying Yay! or Boo!, depending on their politics, and also: Huh?

What is an Executive Order and what powers does it really give a president?

The Constitution gives Presidents the power to create executive orders, which are directives given by the President, under which he manages the operation of the federal government. They often set out the President’s policy or direct a cabinet member to do something. What they can’t do is create laws that would impinge upon congressional powers, like the regulation of interstate commerce.

An Executive Order can be undone by the next President, or by the Supreme Court if a case involving the order is brought.

Congress can’t overturn an executive order but it can basically un-do it by creating legislation that is contrary to the Order. The President can, of course, veto the Congress’ legislation against his Order, but then the Congress can override his veto by getting a supermajority.

End to the gridlock? Yeah, not likely.

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