Executive orders vs. presidential memoranda -- what's the difference?

By Elizabeth Keatinge

President Trump has taken a number of unilateral actions since his inauguration, on topics ranging from Obamacare to international trade.

Some of his directives have come in the form of executive orders, while some have been expressed as presidential memoranda.

What's the difference? They function similarly, but there are some key distinctions.

See more related to this story:

First of all, executive orders are published in the Federal Register, while presidential memoranda sometimes are not. And the Register prioritizes orders above memoranda, which means orders may take legal precedence if the two conflict.

Also, a memorandum can be amended or rescinded by either another memorandum or an order, while orders can only be affected by other orders.

But orders are subject to stricter requirements.

John F. Kennedy instituted a rule that they must cite the presidential authority they rely on, and in 2014 Congress decreed that the White House Office of Management and Budget must report their cost.

Whereas, memoranda only need to have their cost reported if it is estimated to be $100 million or more.

Finally, executive orders are numbered, while presidential memoranda are not.

Beyond all that, they do function very similarly. And if that's confusing to you, you're not alone: The two were just mixed up in a recent Facebook update... from President Trump.