“The Executive Branch”
Article Two of the U.S. Constitution describes the responsibilities of the Executive Branch.
There have been 43 American Presidents, George Washington was the first, in 1789.
Must be NATIVE-BORN CITIZEN (Must have been born in the United States).
Must be at least 35 years old.
Must have been a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
So far, all Presidents have been:
Christian (only one was Catholic, John F. Kennedy)
But this trend will probably end before you graduate from college.
Most have been lawyers, and elected to other offices before.
TERM OF OFFICE
One four-year term, with the possibility of RE-ELECTION (people vote for you to keep your job) to another four-
Originally, the Constitution did not limit the President to two terms.
George Washington set a PRECEDENT (example for others to follow) by serving two terms, and encouraging
future Presidents to only serve two terms.
1940 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt (“FDR”) was elected to a third term.
1944 – FDR was elected to a fourth term.
1951 – The Twenty-second Amendment was passed, setting a two-term limit.
Should the Vice-President take over for the President, he/she may serve for a maximum of 9 years, 364 days.
A partial-term of two years or more means the VP may only run for one more term.
SALARY & BENEFITS
Congress determines the President’s salary, $400,000 ANNUALLY (per year).
Congress cannot change the salary during a President’s term.
Since John Adams, the 2nd President, the President has lived rent-free in the White House.
The President and the CABINET (official advisors to the President) have their offices in the White House.
There is also a PRESIDENTIAL RETREAT (A “country home” where the President and his/her family may relax).
Transportation, including the airplane Air Force One is available for official use.
THE VICE PRESIDENT
According to the U.S. Constitution, if the President RESIGNS (quits), is removed from office, or dies in office, The
Vice President automatically finishes the term. The Vice-President’s main job is to PRESIDE (to run the meetings)
over the Senate.
The Vice-President often represents the President in important matters, and be up-to-date on important national
9 times the Vice-President has taken over the office of the Presidency, 5 times in the past 100 years. 8 of them
died, and Richard Nixon RESIGNED (quit) in 1974.
John Tyler was the first VP to take over the Presidency, in 1841 when William Henry Harrison died suddenly.
The VP must meet the same qualifications as the President. The salary is $186,300 per year.
Parties (and Presidential Candidates) choose a Vice-President for several reasons:
1. To “balance” the TICKET (people running for office) geographically.
2. To “balance” the ticket IDEOLOGICALLY (political philosophy) such as Liberal, Moderate, or Conservative.
3. Knowledge of the issues.
PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION (who takes over if the President can not finish the term) is explained in the
2) Speaker of the House
3) President Pro-Tempore of the Senate
4) Secretary of State
The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, explains the “line” for Vice-Presidential succession. Before this, there was
no provision to replace the Vice-President.
According to the amendment, the President (formerly Vice-President) nominates a new Vice-President.
The NOMINEE (person chosen by the President to fill a job) must be approved by a majority vote in both houses of
In 1973, Vice-President Spiro Agnew was charged with Income Tax EVASION (avoided, or did not pay) and
President Richard Nixon nominated Representative Gerald Ford from Michigan to be Vice-President.
The Congress ratified the nomination and Ford became Vice-President.
Less than a year later, President Nixon had to resign due to ALLEGATIONS (accusing someone of committing a
crime) of corruption related to the Watergate Scandal.
Ford became President, and had to choose a Vice-President.
He nominated Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York to be Vice-President.
Rockefeller, a moderate Republican, was quickly ratified by Congress.
This was the only time in American history that both the President and Vice-President were not elected by the
The 25th Amendment also explains that if the President is too sick to do the job, then the Vice-President is in
charge until the President is well enough to take over.
If there is a DISPUTE (argument) over whether or not the President is well enough, Congress will decide by a 2/3
vote if the President is healthy enough to return.
POWER AND ROLES OF THE PRESIDENT – The President of the U.S.A. must do several jobs SIMULTANEOUSLY
(at the same time).
1) Legislative leader
2) Commander In Chief
3) Foreign Policy Leader
4) Chief Diplomat
5) Judicial Powers
6) Other roles
1) LEGISLATIVE LEADER
A) Recommends Bills.
B) Deliver the State Of The Union Address every January, and address Congress whenever necessary.
C) Create a Budget Recommendation.
D) Influence the direction of Legislation.
ADDRESS (a speech to a specific group, but for all to hear).
2) COMMANDER IN CHIEF
The President is head of the ARMED FORCES (Army, Navy, Air Force, marines, Coast Guard).
Every General must obey the orders of the President.
The President can NOT Declare War on another country, but CAN send U.S. soldiers anywhere in the world for up
to 90 days. After 90 days, Congress can order the troops home.
3) FOREIGN POLICY LEADER
FOREIGN POLICY (the U.S.A.’s plan for dealing with other nations)
DIPLOMACY (The art of dealing with foreign governments).
DIPLOMATIC NOTES (messages between the President and other foreign leaders) are a tool used by the
President in foreign negotiations.
This can DIFFUSE (prevent) an emergency situation.
The President makes TREATIES (agreements between countries) that must be approved by the Senate with a 2/3
5) JUDICIAL POWERS
The President appoints Supreme Court JUSTICES (judges), and other federal justices.
The appointed justices must be approved by a majority vote in the Senate.
The President can issue PARDONS (forgiving convicted criminals and letting them out of jail) and REPRIEVES (a
temporary postponement of a convicted criminal’s sentence).
A reprieve allows a defendant time to discover new evidence that will aid in their defense.
The President may also issue a COMMUTATION (lessening a person’s sentence).
6) OTHER ROLES
The “Other Roles” are not mentioned in the Constitution, but continue because of tradition.
A. Chief of State (symbolic leader of the nation).
The President meets foreign leaders and other important DIGNITARIES (people of importance).
The President also attends important ceremonies; funerals, awarding of medals, etc.
B. Leader of their Political Party – The top elected member of the party.
The President appears at party fundraisers, and makes speeches supporting candidates in their party.
PRESIDENTIAL DAILY LIFE
The President is always in touch with other key government officials.
What the President does all day:
• MEETINGS! MEETINGS! And more MEETINGS! Discussing bills, problems, plans, appointments of judges,
Meeting with the CABINET (advisors).
Breakfast meetings with Congressional leaders.
Meetings with Party leaders
• DELIVERING SPEECHES: In the old days, the President would only be able to speak to people present.
Then came pre-recorded radio broadcasts.
Now a speech can be delivered to a small group, but broadcast around the world live.
• PRESS CONFERENCES (meeting with journalists to answer questions).
• SIGNING / VETOING BILLS
• REVIEWING PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS
• REVIEWING FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES
• STUDYING GOVERNMENT REPORTS
• STUDYING THE NEWSPAPERS, anywhere from 4-7 daily papers.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS and the CABINET – The thousands of government employees who assist the
1) EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT – Since 1939, each President organizes the people in the
Executive Office his own way.
COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS - (advise the President on economic issues).
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET - (advise the President on the creation of the budget).
BUDGET (a plan for income and spending).
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL or NSC - (Advise the President on all matters concerning national defense).
OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY – (coordinates federal, state, and local agencies in the “war on
COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY – (makes recommendations to the President on environmental issues like
ASSORTED OTHER OFFICIALS – Speechwriters, researchers, POLLSTERS (people who do opinion polls),
secretaries, doctors, communications personnel, etc.
2) EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS – Not mentioned in the Constitution, there are 15 Departments (your book was
written before Sept. 11, 2001).
SEE CHART ON PAGE 107
Only CONGRESS (the House of Representatives AND the Senate) can create, combine, or eliminate departments,
though it is not likely that Congress would make any changes without the President’s approval.
George Washington had only three departments;
Department of War, Department of State, and Department of Treasury.
Today there are 15 people in the CABINET (official advisors to the President).
The SECRETARY (head of each department) attends Cabinet Meetings with the President.
(example: Secretary of State = head of State Department).
However, the Attorney General is head of the Department of Justice.
• DEPARTMENT OF STATE – Responsible for dealing with other nations.
DELEGATES or AMBASSADORS (Special representatives of U.S.A.) are appointed by the President to live in, and
deal with, day-to-day relationships with other countries.
Ambassadors, and the people who work for them are sometimes called “diplomats”.
They live and work in an EMBASSY (a government building in a foreign land for diplomats), which is found in the
Capital of foreign countries.
These people must be approved by Congress.
A CONSULATE (government building on foreign soil where trade representatives work) houses the workspaces for
CONSULS (basically economic Ambassadors), who deal with trade issues.
The State Department is also responsible for keeping the Great Seal of the United States, which is AFFIXED
(stamped, or permanently placed) all official U.S. documents.
The State Department also issues VISA’s (documents that allow foreigners to visit the United States) and
PASSPORTS (documents that allow Americans to visit overseas).
• DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY – manages the nation’s money.
Pays off debts
Three “branches” of the Treasury Department:
1) Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) – collects taxes from businesses & individuals.
2) Customs Service – Collects taxes from TARIFFS (a tax on foreign goods sold in the U.S.A.)
3) Secret Service – in charge of:
• Printing and Coining money.
• Catching COUNTERFEITERS (people who make fake money).
• Protecting the President.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - in charge of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast guard.
Secretary of Defense is always a CIVILIAN (non-military person).
Three sub-departments in the D.O.D. (Department of Defense).
1) Department of the Army – land forces
2) Department of the Navy – sea forces and the Marines
3) Department of the Air Force – air defenses.
A civilian is in charge of all three departments.
The JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF (the highest ranking officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) meet to
COORDINATE (plan) the military.
There are four schools to train officers:
1) U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY
2) U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
3) U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO
4) U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT.
Students must be recommended by State Representatives or State Senators.
Women candidates have been accepted since 1976.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE – enforces the Federal laws.
Law Enforcement agencies include:
• Federal Bureau of Investigations (F.B.I.)
• Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (A.T.F.)
• Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.)
• Immigration & Naturalization Service (I.N.S.)
• D.O.J. Federal Marshals
• Bureau of Prisons
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR – Controls natural resources.
Divisions of the Department of Interior:
Bureau of Indian Affairs – matters involving Native-Americans
Bureau of Reclamation - irrigation, flood control, Hydroelectric Plants, dams & other projects.
National Park Service – manages the nation’s National Parks.
Bureau of Mines – controls the Nation’s minerals (Iron-Ore, Copper, Coal, Silver).
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services – Manages the nation’s water resources.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – Helps farmers raise and MARKET (sell) crops.
Agencies in the Department of Agriculture:
Agricultural Resource Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service prepares reports on farming
conditions and develops new techniques to improve production.
Farmers Home Administration (FMHA)– Provides loans to farmers for buying equipment.
U.S. Forest Service – Manages timber resources.
Food and Consumer Service – Manages Food Stamp and School Lunch Programs.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE – encourages trade and business. Many divisions in this agency.
Bureau of Economic Analysis – studies business conditions in the U.S.A.
Minority Business Development Agency – Helps minorities and women to create and maintain businesses.
Patent and Trademark Office – helps protect the rights of inventors.
International Trade Administration – promotes U.S. businesses ABROAD (in other countries).
Bureau of the Census – maintains data on the U.S. population. Does a census count every ten years.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – monitors and predicts weather.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR – concerned with “work” and workers in the U.S.A.
Employment Standards Administration – controls wages.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration – Makes sure that workplaces are safe.
Bureau of Labor Statistics – collects employment data.
Women’s Bureau – concerned with all aspects of female employment.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH and HUMAN SERVICES – concerned with all aspects of American health and well-
Runs the Social Security Administration - a government run retirement/insurance program.
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING and URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD) – Concerned with improving URBAN (city) living
DEPARTMENT of TRANSPORTATION – Responsible for all ground, air and water transportation systems.
The COAST GUARD is a D.O.T. organization in peacetime. During war, its’ responsibilities are determined by the
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY – Manages the nation’s energy policies and resources.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION – Manages the federal funding of the nation’s schools.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS – Administers all benefits to VETERANS (former Soldiers).
BUREAUCRACY – (all of the agencies and departments)
INDEPENDENT AGENCIES – Agencies that do not “fit” into a permanent Cabinet Department.
They sometimes work with Cabinet Departments.
COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS – deals with discrimination.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION – Makes loans to small businesses.
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS and SPACE ADMINISTRATION – Space program.
REGULATORY COMMISSIONS – Can make rules and punish violators. They are independent, though the
President appoints the Commissioners, and the Senate CONFIRMS (ratifies) them.
Terms are 14 years for Commissioners.
INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION – Oldest Regulatory Agency.
Regulates any transportation and trade between states.
CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION – Creates safety standards on goods to be sold.
SECURITIES and EXCHANGE COMMISSION – Regulates buying and selling stocks in the Stock Market.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD – Prevents unfair treatment of workers.