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Presidential Powers . What can He/She Do?. General Job Description. President exists so that: “…laws be faithfully executed.” Presidents, lawmakers, and the public has struggled with the idea of “executive power” What exactly can the POTUS do? Power of presidency has grown since 1789

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Presidential powers

Presidential Powers

What can He/She Do?


General job description
General Job Description

  • President exists so that:

    • “…laws be faithfully executed.”

  • Presidents, lawmakers, and the public has struggled with the idea of “executive power”

    • What exactly can the POTUS do?

  • Power of presidency has grown since 1789

    • Size of government has grown (chief exec/admin)

    • POTUS has grabbed powers in times of war and crisis

    • Also used the media to garner public opinion and support


Executive powers
Executive Powers

  • Can be summed up in parts of the oath of office:

    • “…that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United states and to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States.”

  • Basically, he executes/enforces ALL federal laws

    • Even ones he may not agree with

    • He can decide how vigorously to enforce said laws

  • The power to give executive orders comes from the ordinance power

    • Executive order: directive, rule, or regulation that has the effect of law


Appointment power
Appointment Power

  • President gets to pick (with Senate confirmation):

    • Ambassadors/diplomats

    • Cabinet members/aids

    • Heads of independent agencies (CIA, FBI, NASA, EPA)

    • Federal judges/federal marshals/attorneys

    • Officers in the armed forces

  • President can make an appointment when congress is in recess

    • Expires at the end of the congressional term

  • Also given the removal power

    • Can fire pretty much anyone he appoints


Diplomatic powers
Diplomatic Powers

  • President usually plays a major role in negotiating treaties

    • Assisted by secretary of state

    • Senate must approve

  • Executive agreement:

    • Pact between POTUS and another head of state

    • Senate approval is not required

  • POTUS has power to recognize or not recognize nations

  • Also has power to recall diplomats or other officials


War powers
War Powers

  • POTUS is commander in chief of the military

    • Few limits on what he can do in that role

  • Often fight conflicts without a declaration of war

    • Congress has not declared war since WWII

    • Vietnam and Korea were undeclared

  • Have been eight joint resolutions to aid in a crisis

    • Iraq 1, Iraq 2, Afghanistan, Vietnam

  • War Powers Resolution of 1973:

    • POTUS must notify Congress within 48 hours saying what he is doing

    • Has 60 days (plus 30 more) to end action unless congress extends

    • Congress may end combat at any time


Legislative powers
Legislative Powers

  • POTUS may suggest legislation

  • State of the Union Address

  • Calls for laws and actions he feels needed

  • Has the power to veto bills

  • Four options when faced with a bill:

    • Sign it

    • Veto it

    • Not act and it becomes law in 10 days

    • Not act and Congress adjourns in less than ten days (pocket veto)

  • Veto may be overridden by a 2/3 majority


Judicial powers
Judicial Powers

  • Power of reprieve:

    • Postponement of a sentence

  • Power of pardon:

    • Legal forgiveness of a crime

    • Both may only be used in federal cases

    • Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon

  • Power of commutation:

    • Power to reduce a sentence or fine

  • Power of amnesty

    • Blanket pardon to a group of people


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