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Government 12th Grade
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The Executive Branch - 8


Section 1:        President and Vice President


Section 2:        Electing the President


Section 3:        The Cabinet


Section 4:        The Executive Office




Section 1:        President and Vice President




         presidential succession


Duties of the President


The constitution grants the president


     power as commander in chief of the armed forces,



President’s Day: The 7 Best Films and Television Shows About the Commander in Chief


     the authority to appoint—with Senate’s consent—heads of executive departments, federal court judges, and other top officials,



     the duty to ensure that all the laws of the United States are faithfully executed, and lawmaking power.


Ronald Reagan - Message to Washington


The President’s Term and Salary


      Originally the Constitution did not specify how many four-year terms a president could serve.




     The Twenty-second Amendment, passed in 1951, limited the president to two terms.


If a vice president takes over the presidencey with more than two years left, then that person would only be able to serve for 1 more term as president.  If a vice president were to take over the presidency with less that two years left of the term, then that person could serve as president for two more terms.  In other words, the longest that any one person may serve a president is two terms.



The Constitutional convention determined that presidents should receive compensation but left it up to Congress to decide the amount of compensation—or salary.




Why Is President Obama Taking a Voluntary 5% Pay Cut Now?


      Money is not the reason that people seek the presidency.



 Sometimes, there is great personal risk. 


"The day Reagan was shot: Secret Service agent Joe Trainor's twist of fate"

Presidential Qualifications

      Article II, Section 1 defines the formal requirements for the presidency:

     a natural-born citizen of the United States

     at least 35 years old

     a resident of the United States for at least 14 years



"No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate," said Mitt Romney




      The same requirements apply to the vice president.


Joe Biden Biography Video (DNC)



Milestones for Woman


Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Denyse Graves, in honor of Women's History Month



First Woman to:


Geraldine Ferraro: _______________________


Hillary Rodham Clinton:  _________________________


Nancy Pelosi ________________




The first female ever to be nominated by a major party to run on a presidential "ticket" (ballot) was Geraldine Ferrara, a Congresswoman from Queens.



      Experience in government is an unwritten but important qualification.


Is a presidential candidate required to have a college degree?  High school diploma?


     Running for the presidency demands large amounts of money—from supporters and from one’s own finances.






      The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 attempted to reform campaign fundraising by limiting the amount of money candidates can receive from individual donors.






      Extremely liberal or conservative candidates have little chance of being elected.




      Major parties usually choose candidates who are moderate.


Presidential Succession


      After John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the nation realized that the Constitution’s rules for presidential succession were inadequate.



         In 1967, the Twenty-fifth Amendment was ratified to clarify success to the presidency and vice presidency.




         Section 1 says that in the case of the removal of the president from office or of his death or resignation, the vice president shall become president.





  Section 2 says that whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the vice president, the president shall nominate a vice president who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both houses of Congress.


"Nelson A. Rockefeller - 41st Vice President of the United States: December 19, 1974 – January 20, 1977
49th Governor of New York: January 1, 1959 – December 18, 1973


In 1974 Governor Rockefeller became the second person in U.S. history to be appointed Vice President of the United States under the 25th Amendment.  A year before it was then-Congressman Gerald R. Ford who became the first."





         The next in line to the presidency after the vice president is the Speaker of the House.


Order of Presidential Succession

According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1792, the Senate president pro tempore1 was next in line after the vice president to succeed to the presidency, followed by the Speaker of the House.

In 1886, however, Congress changed the order of presidential succession, replacing the president pro tempore and the Speaker with the cabinet officers. Proponents of this change argued that the congressional leaders lacked executive experience, and none had served as president, while six former secretaries of state had later been elected to that office.

The Presidential Succession Act of 1947, signed by President Harry Truman, changed the order again to what it is today. The cabinet members are ordered in the line of succession according to the date their offices were established.

Prior to the ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967, there was no provision for filling a vacancy in the vice presidency. When a president died in office, the vice president succeeded him, and the vice presidency then remained vacant. The first vice president to take office under the new procedure was Gerald Ford, who was nominated by Nixon on Oct. 12, 1973, and confirmed by Congress the following Dec. 6.

The Vice President Joseph Biden

Speaker of the House John Boehner

President pro tempore of the Senate1Patrick Leahy

Secretary of State John Kerry

Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

Attorney General Eric Holder

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Secretary of Commerce John Bryson

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

NOTE: An official cannot succeed to the Presidency unless that person meets the Constitutional requirements. 1. The president pro tempore presides over the Senate when the vice president is absent. The president pro tempore is elected by the Senate, but by tradition the position is held by the senior member of the majority party.

Read more:
Order of Presidential Succession | Infoplease.com

Link to each department's webpage.


         The Twenty-fifth Amendment says that when a president is disabled, the vice president becomes president.


The Vice President’s Role




      The Constitution gives the vice president two duties:


    The vice president presides over the Senate and votes in that body in case of a tie.




     Under the Twenty-fifth Amendment, the vice president helps decide whether the president is disabled and acts as president should that happen.



    Before the Eisenhower administration, the vice presidency was almost a purely ceremonial office.



     Vice presidents today now often participate in policy meetings, undertake special assignments, and are members of the National Security Council.







Section 2:        Electing the President

  • elector

  • electoral vote


Below is a link for state laws or procedures for choosing electors.


The Original System





     Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes the Electoral college.




    Each state legislature would set up a method for choosing people who would be the electors.




     The electors would meet in their state at election time to cast their electoral vote for the president.



     In the original system, electoral votes from all the states would be counted in a joint session of Congress.


     The candidate receiving a majority would become president and the candidate with the second-highest number—also a majority—would become vice president.





 The Impact of Political Parties



      The Twelfth Amendment requires that the electors cast separate ballots for president and vice president.





         It also provides that if no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes, the House chooses from the three candidates with the largest number of elector votes.



      In the 1820s states began to place presidential candidates on the ballot as the Electoral College system adapted to the growth of democracy.




The Electoral College System Today




      Today parties choose their nominees for president in conventions held in late summer.



      Voters cast their ballots for president every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.



      Voters are not voting directly for president or vice president but instead voting for all of their party’s electors—the slate of electors—in their state.



Electoral College Issues




      In all but two states, Maine and Nebraska, if a candidate wins the largest number of popular votes, that person receives all the state’s electoral votes.



         The winner-take-all system makes it possible for a candidate who loses the overall popular vote to win the electoral vote.



         When a third-party candidate is a strong presidential contender, that candidate could win enough electoral votes to prevent either major-party candidate from receiving a majority of votes.



         When the House of Representatives must decide a presidential election, each state casts one vote and the candidate who receives 26 or more of the
votes is elected.



         People usually criticize the Electoral College system when problems arise. Many changes to the system have been proposed.


10 reasons why the Electoral College is a problem



The Inauguration



Until the inauguration in late January, the new president is referred to as the president-elect



         The new president takes office at noon on January 20 in the year following the presidential election.

Remember, our Constitution allows for flexibility through the amendment process as well as court decisions. Following the Vietnam War, the public sentiment supported lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. The rationale for many was that if someone was old enough to be drafted, they should have a say in who the commander in chief is. With that, the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age.






Section 3:        The Cabinet


  • cabinet

  • leak


Selection of the Cabinet



  • The president appoints the secretaries that head the 15 major executive departments.  These 15 secretaries,

             the vice president, and several other top officials make up the cabinet.  The  Cabinet members advise the



  • It is important that a cabinet appointee: have a background that is compatible with the department he or she

             will head, satisfy powerful interest groups that have a stake in the department’s policies, and have high-

             level administrative skills and experience.


  • Before making final cabinet decisions, members of the president-elect’s team may leak, or deliberately

            disclose, some candidates’ names to the news media to test the reaction of Congress, interest groups, and

            the public.





The Role of the Cabinet


      Each cabinet member is responsible for the executive department that he or she heads.






    As a group, the cabinet is intended to serve as an advisory body to the president.  Throughout history, the cabinet’s role in decision making depended on the president’s wishes.


      Though several recent presidents have attempted to increase the cabinet’s role, most have ended up going elsewhere for advice.


      Some cabinet members—known as the “inner cabinet”—have greater influence because their departments are concerned with the most sensitive national issues. They include: secretary of state,  secretary of defense,      secretary of treasury and the attorney general.




Factors Limiting the Cabinet’s Role



      There are several factors that limit the president’s use of the cabinet for key decisions, including: conflicting loyalties: no president commands the complete loyalty of cabinet members, and the difficulty of maintaining secrecy when 15 cabinet secretaries are involved in discussion of sensitive topics.




Section 4:        The Executive Office


  • central clearance

  • National Security Advisor

  • press secretary

Executive Office Agencies

      The Executive Office of the President (EOP) was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress in 1939 to serve the needs of each administration.


      Today the EOP staffs include attorneys, scientists, social scientists, and other highly technical or professional personnel.



      The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prepares the national budget for the president, who then presents it to Congress.


         The OMB also reviews all legislative proposals that executive agencies prepare. This review is called central clearance.



         Congress created the National Security Council (NSC) to advise the president and to coordinate U.S. military and foreign policy.

         A special assistant, the National Security Advisor, directs the NSC staff.




         President George W. Bush created the Office of Homeland Security within the EOP to coordinate the activities of a majority of the federal agencies that were working to fight terrorism.



         The Council of Economic Advisers was created to assess the nation’s economic health, predict future economic conditions, and support other executive agencies that are involved in economic planning.


Ronald Reagan Talks About Balancing the Budget on "The Tonight Show"


The White House Office




      The White House staff is chosen by the president without Senate confirmation.

      White House aides perform whatever duties the president assigns them.


      The press secretary heads a staff that handles relations with the press corps, sets up press conferences, and issues public statements.







      Recent presidents have given top White House staff more authority over policymaking.