Can a President Make Laws without the Approval of Congress

Before we can answer the question of how the President can make laws without the approval of Congress, we need to understand how the US government works from a top level and know how laws in the United States become laws. Once we answer these two things, we can properly understand and respond to this question.

Three Branches of the Government

The United States of America has three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial.

The legislative branch is primarily where bills are introduced. These bills or modified versions of them are what eventually become laws if successfully passed through the process. The legislative branch is also charged with other major functions including: a) declaring wars, b) establishing a budget/funding, and c) establishing treaties with other nations. This branch consists of two houses: House of Representatives (435 members) and Senate (100 members). The number of representatives from each state depends on the size of their population; the more people a state has, the more representatives seats they carry. Each state has two senators. Members of the House of Representatives are elected and their term lasts 2 years; members of the Senate are elected as well, and their term lasts 6 years.

The executive branch is held by the President who is charged with executing and upholding the laws of the land (the Constitution and other laws passed). To help him perform his duties, he has cabinet members in charge of various aspect of running a government. He is also the Commander and Chief of the US armed forces. The president is an elected position as well and has a term of 4 years.

The third and last branch of the government is the judicial branch. This branch consists of many courts. The highest level court is called the Supreme Court consisting of 9 members who are charged with interpreting the constitutionality of any laws. Members of the Supreme Court are not elected officials, but are appointed by the president. The appointment has no term limits.

How a Bill Becomes Law

Now let’s look at how laws are made. Laws come from bills. Bills are basically proposed laws. Ideas for them come from citizens or from elected officials who then present details about them to Congressional members who then begin the process of law-making. Specifically, this is how the process works:

Bills come from the House of Representatives. An idea for a law starts when a representative researches the idea and writes it out as a bill. The representative then works to gain the support of several house members before proposing or introducing it to the House of Representatives. Once enough support is garnered and it is introduced to the House of Representatives, it eventually ends up in a subject matter expert committee for review. This committee consists of representatives. This committee may revise the bill and re-introduce it to the House, reject it, or simply approve it. Once approved, it goes on debate within the house. Agreed upon changes are made and the bill is put up for a vote.  When a majority of representatives approve it, the bill goes to the Senate. In the Senate, the bill goes through similar review gyrations. Upon approval by the Senate, the bill goes to the President for final approval. If the President approves the bill, then it becomes law. The President has the power to veto (not approve) a bill. If he doesn’t approve the bill, it goes back to Congress, where another vote to override the President can be held. To override the President, two-thirds of both houses must vote to approve it. When they do, the bill becomes law.


Based on the above discussion, the answer to the question “Can the President make laws without approval from Congress?” is NO.  

The President only has two venues for affecting anything related to law: a) approval or veto of a bill sent by Congress, and b) executing the law as he sees fit.

The bottom line is that the President cannot make laws.