US Government Information
Executive Authority


Executive Authority

Article II describes the powers of the Executive Branch, consisting of the President, Vice President, and cabinet (executive departments). The President is given a term of four years, and is chosen by a majority of the electors from each state. The electors are chosen by the state legislatures, and each state has as many electors as it does members of Congress. The President must be at least 35 years old, and must have been born within the United States, and must be a resident for 14 years before serving. Also, no President can be elected for a third term, and each President chooses a vice president to be elected with. However, if no candidate for President or Vice President receives a majority, then the House of Representatives chooses the President among the two leading contenders, and the Senate chooses a Vice President.

The President serves as commander in chief of the armed forces, as well as head of state. He has the power to make treaties with other nations, appoint officers, ambassadors, and federal judges, provided that two thirds of the Senate approve all treaties and official appointments, unless Congress stipulates that a particular office does not require Senate approval via federal law. Also, the President may grant pardons and reprieves (unless the individual was impeached), grant temporary appointments while the Senate is recessed, convene the Congress (or adjourn it if the House and Senate fail to agree on adjournment), receive ambassadors, and faithfully execute the laws of the United States.

The President also appoints, with the approval of the Senate, the heads of the executive departments, or cabinet members. The cabinet consists of: the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security. The President may also appoint a Vice President, in the case of death or disability, with the Senate's approval.

The Vice President serves as President of the Senate. But, has no vote within the Senate, unless the vote is evenly divided. Also, the Vice President assumes the office and powers of the President in the case of the death, resignation, impeachment, or disability of the President.