the Presidency US GOVERNMENT

"The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."

Article II, Sec. 1 of the United States Constitution

Presidential Basics

An executive is a administrator who puts plans and policies in place. In government the executive branch has the responsibility of putting policies and laws into effect. While it could be said that the executive branch exists to carry out the laws made by Congress, the head of the executive branch--the president--has a tremendous amount of influence on the direction of our country.

Barack Obama, our 44th President

The Presidency and the Constitution

The minimum qualifications for the office of the presidency are spelled out in Article II in the Constitution. A president must be at least 35 years old, must be a natural born citizen of the United States, and must have been a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.

The Constitution gives the president relatively little power when compared to Congress. This is not surprising its authors' assumed anxiety about a potentially tyrannical executive. When compared to the enumerated powers of Congress the president's stated powers are few: the commander in chief of the armed forces, the ability to grant pardons, the ability to make treaties with other nations, the power to appoint federal officers and judges, the expectation to deliver to Congress the State of the Union, and the responsibility to receive foreign ambassadors. One of the final and most general orders the framers gave the president is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

The Organization of the Presidency

The Executive Office of the President consists of the immediate staff that work for the president, as well as numerous other levels of staff that report to the president. Sometimes referred to as "White House Staff", these individuals work in a variety of departments to collect, analyze, and report critical data to the president. The most notable positions in the EOP are the Chief of Staff who serves as the president's closest assistant and the highest ranking member of the EOP, the Counsel who provide(s) legal expertise and advice to the president, and the White House Press Secretary who acts as a spokesperson of the administration and meets regularly with news media.

1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC

The Cabinet is the president's collection of advisors in areas of key national interest. At the beginning of each term the president appoints a secretary to each of the cabinet departments who then heads that department and reports to the president. The number of cabinet departments has grown over our nation's history and currently sits at 15. Some cabinet positions are high-profile jobs with great responsibilities, such of the the Secretary of State and the Attorney General.

The vice president is granted only two official duties: the serve as the president of the Senate (which includes casting the tie-breaking vote and and residing over the counting of votes in the Electoral College) and sitting second in the line of presidential succession. The vice president also holds a position in the president's cabinet and often takes on other executive duties.

The President's Many Roles

As chief executive the president is responsible for the day to day operations of the country.

As commander-in-chief the president serves as the head of the nation's armed forces.

As chief of state the president serves as the symbolic and moral leader of the nation.

As chief diplomat the president receives foreign dignitaries and negotiates with other heads of state.

As chief legislator the president suggests the legislative course of Congress and can either sign a bill into law or veto it.

As party leader the president is the most visable and prominent member of his or her political party and may use their position to gain (or lose) support for other party candidates.

The Power of the President

As mentioned earlier, the Constitution grants the presidency a limited but potent set of expressed powers. The president serves as the civilian leader of the military and has the authority to grant pardons for federal crimes. The president has the ability to make federal appointments to key positions not just within the executive branch but federal judges and justices as well. The president may also negotiate treaties with other nations. However, such appointments and treaties are subject to the confirmation, or approval, of the Senate.

In times of national crisis the president is able to expand his or her authority. The president holds the power to declare a national state of emergency which may alter the functioning of the three branches of the federal government, nullify certain checks on presidential power, and suspend some of the rights of the citizens. This power is designed to allow the president the ability to act quickly and decisively in times of disaster, crisis, insurrection, or war. The United States still currently under a federal state of emergency and has been since September 11, 2001.

Executive privilege is the ability for the president and other executive officials to resist subpoenas and investigation by the legislative and judicial branches. While not mentioned specifically in the Constitution, the Supreme Court confirmed the legitimacy of executive privilege in the decision of United States v. Nixon stating that executive officials have a need for confidentiality but must surrender information in it is shown that there exists a greater public need to release privileged information than the public need to suppress it.

Executive orders are legally binding orders given by the president to federal administrative agencies. Executive orders are usually issued to guide federal agencies and officials in carrying out laws passed by Congress. However, some presidents have used executive orders to seemingly direct policy away from the intent of federal law or even make large-scale policy changes without Congressional approval. The use of executive orders has become increasingly controversial and seen by some as an attempt by presidents to ignore Constitutional checks and balances.

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