The President of the United States
President is the head of the Executive Branch. The powers of the President
of the United States are set forth in Article II of the Constitution.
Some of these powers the President can exercise in his own right, without
formal legislative approval. Others require the consent of the Senate
or Congress as a whole. The following is a list of duties of the President
of the United States:
National Security Powers:
- Serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed
forces. He can authorize the use of troops overseas without declaring
war. To declare war officially, though, he must get the approval
of the Congress.
- Makes treaties with other nations; however,
the Senate must approve any treaty before it becomes official.
- Nominates ambassadors, with the agreement
of a majority of the Senate.
- Receives ambassadors of other nations, thereby
recognizing those lands as official countries.
- Presents information on the state of the
union to Congress.
- Recommends legislation to Congress. Despite
all of his power, the President cannot write bills. He can propose
a bill, but a member of Congress must submit it for him.
- Convenes both houses of Congress in special
- Approves laws passed by Congress.
- "Take care that the laws be faithfully
executed" -- Article II, Section 3
- Appoints the heads of each Executive Branch
department as Chief of the Government. He also appoints ambassadors,
Supreme Court Justices, and other officials, with the agreement
of the majority of the Senate.
- Requests written opinions of administrative
- Fills administrative vacancies during congressional
- Grants reprieves and pardons for Federal
crimes (except impeachment).
- Appoints Federal judges, with the agreement
of the majority of the Senate.
The President's Lawmaking Role
The President plays a large role in making America's
laws. His job is to approve the laws
that Congress creates. When both chambers have approved a bill,
they send it to the President. If he agrees with the law, he signs
it and the law goes into effect.
If the President does not like a bill, he can
it. There are two ways that he can veto a bill. First, the President
can send the bill back to Congress unsigned. In most cases, he will
also send a list of reasons he does not like the bill. Second, the
President can "pocket" the bill. After ten days, one of
two things happens: 1) if Congress is in session, the bill becomes
a law anyway 2) if Congress has adjourned, the bill does not become
law and the President has used a "pocket
When the President vetoes a bill, it will most
likely never become a law. Congress can override a veto, but to do
so two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate
must vote against the President.
Despite all of his power, the President cannot
write bills. He can propose a bill, but a member of Congress must
submit it for him.
Presidential Qualifications and Term Limit
Because he has so much responsibility, the President,
along with the Vice-President, is the only official elected by the
entire country. Not just anyone can be President, though. In order
to be elected, one must be at least 35 years old. Also, each candidate
must be a natural-born U.S. citizen and have lived in the U.S. for
at least 14 years. When elected, the President serves a term of four
years. The most one President can serve is two terms, for a total
of eight years.
Before 1951, the President could serve for as
many terms as he wanted. After two terms as President, George Washington
chose not to run again. All other Presidents followed his example
until Franklin D. Roosevelt successfully ran for office four times.
He, however, did not complete his fourth term of office because he
died in 1945. Six years later, Congress passed the 22nd
Amendment, which limits Presidents to two terms.
GPO and the President
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) publishes
a wide variety of materials for the President. For example, when the
White House releases the President's speeches, proclamations, and
other presidential materials, they are published in the Weekly
Compilation of Presidential Documents, which is available on GPO