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16 October 2014
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Reference - Federal governmentOverview
The President of the United States has a role in all three branches of government: he can suggest policy to Congress and he must also approve any policy which Congress presents to him; he is head of the Executive ; and he can appoint judges to the Supreme Court. But his will is not guaranteed in any of these situations.

Presidents are elected for periods or "terms" of four years. A president can only be elected to office twice, which means one person can only be in office for a maximum of eight years. (Constitutional Amendment 22)

Although it is commonly upheld that, as part of the American dream, anyone can become president, this is not entirely true. There are conditions. He or she must be: a natural born citizen; at least thirty-five years old and have lived in the USA for at least fourteen years before taking office. To date, every American president has been male and white. It also helps to be rich. Every presidential candidate has to raise millions of dollars to fund their state and national campaigns. Significantly, the main candidates raise most of their campaign finance from private donations. President Bush spent 306 million dollars during the 2004 campaign from a total raised by his supporters of 360 million. John Kerry, his Democratic rival for the job, raised 241 million dollars.

Presidential candidates also receive millions from general election public funds. The bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2004) raised the limit on individual contributions to presidential campaign funds from 1,000 to 2,000 dollars. Both candidates benefited from this.

It is very difficult to remove a president from office. The process by which Congress may remove presidents is known as impeachment. Three presidents have faced impeachment: Richard Nixon avoided it by resigning; Andrew Johnson was saved by one vote in the Senate; and Bill Clinton was acquitted.

The President recommends policies for the consideration of Congress in an annual speech known as The State of the Union address.

In his address in February 2005, President Bush laid down his policy ideas on immigration,

“America's immigration system is also outdated - unsuited to the needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing workers, and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, rejects amnesty, tells us who is entering and leaving our country and closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.”

Read the immigration case study

The President can overrule Acts of Congress by using his veto. If he does choose to veto an Act, it cannot become law unless the veto is then overruled by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The President's power of veto can be used to prevent legislation he opposes, or to force Congress to modify proposed new legislation before it reaches him.

George W Bush had given his support to the Liability Bill but warned that he would veto it if any amendment was introduced, saying he wanted this bill to cover one single issue only.

Pocket Veto

The president can use another tool when the legislative session is nearing an end. If a president does not sign a bill within ten days of receiving it, the bill automatically becomes law. However, if a president is presented with a bill in the last ten days of a session and chooses to ignore it, the bill fails.

the executive
The presidency is the executive office of the US government. (Article Two of the Constitution).

This means, among other things, that he has the authority to ensure that all laws are put into action. The power of patronage is important here. The president can appoint the people employed to carry out orders, plans and laws, known as executive officers. This reinforces his influence since he can choose people who are sympathetic to his own goals.

The president is commander in chief of all armed forces in the United States . He is also head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); the National Security Council (NSC) and the National Security Agency (NSA) ; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The diplomatic role of the president includes making treaties with other countries and recognising foreign nations and their ambassadors.

the supreme court
The president is head of the court system and its judges. His authority includes being able to grant pardon to someone who has committed a crime which violates federal law.

The president appoints Supreme Court judges.
Appointment of Supreme Court judges is not always straightforward. In 2004, George W Bush nominated Harriet Miers but she was obliged to step down when conservative Republicans refused to support her nomination. His subsequent nomination of Samuel Alito was also controversial, with some Democrats voicing concerns about his suitability.

The Role of the Vice President
Primarily, the role of vice president is administrative. He or she is formally the presiding officer in the Senate (though this task has been less often performed in recent times) and has the casting vote in the chamber if there has been a 50-50 vote on a bill. The vice president counts and announces the result of the electoral college vote.

If a president dies in office, resigns or is removed by Congress, the vice president automatically becomes president. Since the USA was created, this has occurred nine times. Once a very unimportant role, the vice presidency has recently attracted candidates who have had significant roles in linking the Administration and Congress. It is now a common assumption that the vice president will run for the presidency.

Both Al Gore and Dick Cheney have had significant involvement in presenting and defending White House initiatives.


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