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The President of the United States

The President is the Head of the Executive Branch and generally viewed as the head of the U.S. Government. While he does have significant power, his power is limited by the Constitution. Specifically, the Constitution assigns the following powers to the President:

  • Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
  • Make treaties, with two-thirds consent of the Senate
  • Receive ambassadors and other public ministers from foreign countries
  • Appoint ambassadors, Supreme Court justices, federal judges, and any officials as provided for by the Congress, with the approval of the Senate
  • Give an annual State of the Union Address to Congress
  • Recommend legislation to Congress
  • Convene Congress on extraordinary occasions
  • Adjourn Congress, in cases of a disagreement about adjournment
  • "Take care that the laws be faithfully executed"
  • Fill in administrative vacancies during Congressional recesses
  • Grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the U.S.

For convenience, we have divided these main powers into three categories: Head of State, Administrative, and Legislative Powers.

As Head of State, the President meets with the leaders of other countries. He has the power to recognize those lands as official countries and to make treaties with them. However, the Senate must approve any treaty before it becomes official. The President also has the power to appoint ambassadors to other countries, with the Senate's approval.

The President is also the official head of the U.S. military. As Commander in Chief, he can authorize the use of troops overseas without declaring war. To declare war officially, though, he must get the approval of the Congress.

The President's administrative duties include appointing the heads of each Executive Branch department. Of course, these appointments are subject to the approval of the Senate. The President also has the power to request the written opinion of the head of each Executive Branch department, regarding any subject relating to their department.


A service of the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Publishing Office.