Executive Branch

The executive branch of the United States Government consists of the President, Vice President and fifteen Cabinet-level executive departments.  The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of the United States, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.  The Vice President is also part of the Executive Branch, who assumes the office of the President should the need arise.  The Cabinet and independent federal agencies are responsible for the day-to-day enforcement and administration of federal laws.  The Executive Branch employs more than 4 million Americans.

The President is both the head of state and head of government of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.  The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by Congress.  The President appoints the heads of the federal agencies, including the Cabinet.  The President also appoints the heads of more than 50 independent federal commissions, such as the Federal Reserve Board or the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as federal judges, ambassadors, and other federal offices.  The Executive Branch conducts diplomacy with other nations, and the President has the power to negotiate and sign treaties.

The primary responsibility of the Vice President of the United States is to be ready at a moment’s notice to assume the Presidency in case of the President’s death, resignation, or temporary incapacitation, or if the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet judge that the President is no longer able to discharge the duties of the presidency.  The Vice President also serves as the President of the United States Senate, where he or she casts the deciding vote in the case of a tie.  Except in the case of tiebreaking votes, the Vice President rarely actually presides over the Senate.

The Executive Office of the President (EOP) created in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt provides support to the President to govern effectively.  The EOP consists of the immediate staff to the President, along with entities such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.  The EOP has responsibility for tasks ranging from communicating the President’s message to the American people to promoting trade interests abroad.  The current EOP employs around 1800 people.

The Cabinet is an advisory body consisting of the heads of the 15 executive departments.  These departments and agencies have missions and responsibilities as widely divergent as those of the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Social Security Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  All the members of the Cabinet take the title Secretary, excepting the head of the Justice Department, who is designated as Attorney General.


Inside Executive Branch