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Politics of the United States
Executive Branch & Bureaucracy
Terms in this set (63)
Amendment which sets forth the line of succession, replaces a vacancy in the vice presidency and allows for a president to be removed if there is a health reason and consensus of incompetence from both a majority of the cabinet and a supermajority in Congress.
A group pardon given by the president; there is no check on this presidential power.
Executive power which allows the president to choose who should fill certain positions in the executive and judicial branches; the president appoints with the advice and consent (approval) of the Senate.
References the unelected component of the executive branch of our government; they implement the laws using a complex system of rules and procedures which are intended to make the process open and transparent and protect the rights and resources of the people.
The set of advisors to the president; not in the Constitution; exists by custom and practice. Formally, it includes the heads (secretaries) of the 15 executive departments and other individuals who the president chooses to add as the need arises.
Civil service system
System of hiring in the federal government which was set up in the 19th century to battle corruption in hiring practices. Federal employees are hired based on a competitive, merit-based system and are subject to certain protects from politics in job security.
An agreement between the president and a foreign head of state; it has the full force and effect of law while that president is in power; often used to conduct foreign policy because it does not require approval from another body in order to take effect.
The fifteen departments created by Congress to carry out the implementation of the laws passed by Congress. The head of each department is selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They are the largest component of the bureaucracy in America.
Executive Office of the President
Created by FDR during the Great Depression to help the President carry out the administrative work of his office. The EOP is answerable directly to the president and is made up of several specialized agencies that help him carry out his specific duties and responsibilities (i.e., the Office of Management and Budget).
"Faithfully execute the law"
Presidential responsibility specifically stated in the Constitution and part of the oath of office. The job of the executive is to execute/implement the law.
Foreign relations powers
The president was given more foreign relations power because he is an individual and is constantly in office. In the beginning the Congress was only in Washington for a few months of the year. This falls in line with Locke's writings on the appropriate powers of the executive. It includes the power to negotiate treaties, make executive agreements and grant formal recognition of other countries. The president directs foreign policy in America.
Independent agencies are independent of the federal departments. That makes the head of independent agencies directly answerable to the President rather than through a cabinet secretary. Examples would include NASA or the EPA.
National Security Council
Executive organization created after WWII to coordinate the defensive/diplomatic operations of the United States government which were completely separated into the State Department and Department of Defense before. It's role is national security. It's day to day operations are headed by the National Security Adviser, who is usually part of the cabinet. Other permanent members include the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security and the Vice President. Occasionally, the Secretary of the Treasury is also added, as can be other individuals on an as-needed basis.
An official end to punishment. The president can pardon individuals who are accused or convicted of violating federal law. Pardons erase the crime like they never happened. There is no check on this presidential power.
Presidential action on bills
When a president receives a bill from the Congress, he can sign it and it becomes law. He can veto it and it is not a law unless that veto is overridden by 2/3 of each house of Congress. He can set a bill aside on his desk, taking no action, and it will automatically become law after 10 days if Congress is in session. In rare instances, at the end of a session/term of Congress, he can exercise the pocket veto, which is to set it aside when there are fewer than 10 days left in a Congressional session, in which case it is automatically vetoed.
Presidential appointment power
The president has the power to appoint the heads of all executive departments, agencies, commissions, etc. He appoints ambassadors. He appoints federal court judges. All of these appointments require the approval of the Senate. There are also some positions in the executive branch that he can appoint without the oversight of the Senate, including his personal staff such as Chief of Staff, Press Secretary, and similar.
To be president, the formal qualifications include that an individual must be 35 years of older, a natural born citizen as defined as such by Congress and a resident of the U.S. for 14 years. Informal qualifications reference those things the American public looks for. The last election threw some of that out of the window, but generally Americans prefer someone who has experience in government, is married and is Christian (based on past presidents).
Presidential Succession Act of 1947
Law passed by Congress after the death of FDR to set up a line of succession beyond the Vice President in case both died. Following the president are the Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and then the cabinet secretaries in the order that the cabinet departments were created (starting with the State Department and continuing to Homeland Security). This was put into the Constitution in the 25th amendment.
A postponement of punishment for a federal crime. It can be temporary or permanent. There is no check on this presidential power.
Terms of office
The Constitution initially set a term of 4 years, with no limitations. In the 20th century, the 22nd amendment was added to the Constitution and places a limitation of 2 terms, not to exceed a total of 10 years in office. The additional two years would account for a Vice President taking office with less than half of the prior President's term left to fulfill.
The presidential power to reject a law passed by Congress.
Vice presidential role
According to the Constitution, the role of the VP is to be a spare in case of the death or removal of the President. He presides over the Senate, but cannot enter debate and can only vote in case of a tie.
Chief of State
Ceremonial presidential role in which he stands as a representative of the American people (example - throwing out the first pitch at the World Series). This role blends the role of a King and that of a prime minister. It is a Constitutional role.
Role where the President acts as the "boss" of all federal employees and executes/enforces the law. An example would be signing a law passed by Congress or pardoning someone convicted of a federal crime. This role is his primary responsibility since he is to "faithfully execute the law."
The President is the top foreign policy officer of the United States and oversees all foreign policy and relationships with other countries. An example would be appointing an ambassador to another country or negotiating a treaty. This role is mentioned in the Constitution.
Commander in Chief
The President is the civilian leader of the military in the United States. He cannot declare war, although he can commit troops to action without a war declaration. It was important to the founders that this role be occupied by a civilian because generals have a tendency to want to go to war. This role is mentioned by name in the Constitution.
The President is expected to recommend policy ideas to the Congress to fulfill his goals. An example would be giving the State of the Union address where he outlines what he wants Congress to do in the coming year. This role is referenced in the language of the Constitution.
Chief of Party
The President is the "unofficial" leader of his political party and is expected by the party to pursue their policy agenda. He is also expected to give patronage to loyal party members and offer support to political leaders in the party in elections (assuming he is popular enough that they want his support). This role developed over time.
Chief Economic Planner
The President is expected to oversee the economy and recommend ways to improve the economy. He also prepares an annual budget and presents it to Congress for their consideration (they actually pass a budget - he just makes suggestions). He also is expected to prepare an annual report on the economic health of the United States and present it to Congress. This role developed after WWII.
Lame Duck amendment; it synced up the inauguration dates for the President and the start of Congress into January. It shortened the time period when a sitting president would be in office while knowing he was not returning.
War Powers Act of 1973
Law passed by Congress which recognizes the reality that Presidents can commit troops in times of conflict without a war declaration. It was passed to try to control that tendency at the end of the Vietnam Conflict. Under this law, presidents can commit troops, but must notify Congress in writing within 48 hours that they have done so. They can continues operates for up to 90 days without congressional approval. While the law says they must then cease the operations without Congressional approval, the reality is that most feel we look weak if we leave without "winning" and so Congress never enforces this provision. This law was passed over the veto of President Nixon who believed that it weakened presidential power.
A formal agreement between two nations. The president negotiates treaties, but they need a 2/3 vote of the Senate for ratification.
Amendment which limited the president to no more than two terms in office. Passed in response to FDR's election to 4 terms.
Presidential compensation and benefits
These are set by Congress in the Constitution. Congress cannot raise or lower a president's salary during their term in office, but otherwise, there are not limits to the pay they can set. Since the 1940's, presidents have also been entitled to a pension after leaving office. There are other benefits to the job such as free housing, free travel, around the clock security detail and free postage for life.
An official charge of misconduct. The House brings the charges of impeachment for executive and judicial branch officials. A trial will be held in the Senate. The remedy to impeachment is acquittal (no removal) or removal.
Federalist paper by Alexander Hamilton supporting the idea of the presidency as a branch united in one individual (unitary theory of the presidency) so that the presidency can execute the law quickly and without hesitation while remaining constrained by their sole responsibility for action to the people through elections. The president's energy is essential to good governance, as a multiplicity of executives is inherently weak.
President is seen as emperor taking strong actions without consulting Congress or seeking its approval
Constitutional process for removing executive officers & judges for "treason, high crimes & misdemeanors" (whatever Congress thinks is impeachable). Two stages: (1) House decides to impeach (accuse) target (simple majority); (2) Senate holds trial to convict (2/3 majority). Andy Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached but not convicted. Nixon resigned as Articles of Impeachment were being drafted!
A concept based on the idea that "the people have spoken." It is a powerful symbol in American electoral politics, according legitimacy and credibility to a newly elected president's proposals.
the time following an election when a president's popularity is high and congressional relations are likely to be productive
State of the Union Address
A yearly report by the president to Congress describing the nation's condition and recommending programs and policies
the president's use of his prestige and visibility to guide or enthuse the American public
a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law.
The power to keep executive communications confidential, especially if they relate to national security.
Executive Office of the President
The cluster of presidential staff agencies that help the president carry out his responsibilities. Currently the office includes the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers, and several other units.
National Security Council
An office created in 1947 to coordinate the president's foreign and military policy advisers. Its formal members are the president, vice president, secretary of state, and secretary of defense, and it is managed by the president's national security assistant.
Independent regulatory commission
A government agency or commission with regulatory power whose independence is protected by Congress.
A government agency that operates like a business corporation, created to secure greater freedom of action and flexibility for a particular program.
A close relationship between an agency, a congressional committee, and an interest group
Relationships among interest groups, congressional committees and subcommittees, and the government agencies that share a common policy concern.
A system of public employment based on rewarding party loyalists and friends.
Granting favors or giving contracts or making appointments to office in return for political support
Office of Management and Budget
An office that prepares the president's budget and also advises presidents on proposals from departments and agencies and helps review their proposed regulations.
A quasi-legislative administrative process that produces regulations by government agencies
Power used by Congress to gather information useful for the formation of legislation, review the operations and budgets of executive departments and independent regulatory agencies, conduct investigations through committee hearings, and bring to the public's attention the need for public policy
complex bureaucratic rules and procedures that must be followed to get something done
Freedom of Information Act
Gives all citizens the right to inspect all records of federal agencies except those containing military, intelligence, or trade secrets; increases accountability of bureaucracy
A federal law prohibiting government employees from active participation in partisan politics.
Whistleblower Protection Act
A law passed in 1989 which created an Office of Special Counsel to investigate complaints from bureaucrats claiming they were punished after reporting to Congress about waste, fraud, or abuse in their agencies.
a presidential document that reveals what the president thinks of a new law and how it ought to be enforced
A theory that argues for a strong, assertive presidential role, with presidential authority limited only at points specifically prohibited by law.
Lame duck period
The time during which a president who has lost an election or has ended a second term is still in office before the new president serves
The extent to which appointed bureaucrats can choose courses of action and make policies that are not spelled out in advance by laws.
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