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In terms of their powers, there is no difference between an executive order and a law. Executive orders have the force of law and must be obeyed unless they are overturned by some competent authority, like the Supreme Court.
The major difference between the two comes in how they are made. A law must go through the entire legislative process. It must be approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. By contrast, an executive order does not have to do any of these things. A president can simply draft and issue an executive order without any formal approval from any other part of government.
Thus, both executive orders and laws have the force of law and must be obeyed, but the two are created in very different ways.
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