Executive Branch

Executive Branch

The executive branch of the United States government is responsible for enforcing and implementing the nation's laws.


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Obama Head of Executive Branch

The president of the United States is the head of the executive branch of the nation's government. Barack Obama became the 44th person to hold this position.

Photograph by Riccardo S. Savi/Film Magic
The president of the United States is the head of the executive branch of the nation's government. Barack Obama became the 44th person to hold this position.

The executive branch is one of the three branches of the United States government, and it is responsible for enforcing and carrying out the laws of the nation. The president is the head of the executive branch, which includes the vice president, cabinet members, government agencies, bureaus, commissions, and committees.

Office of the President
The U.S. president is elected by an indirect vote of eligible citizens through the Electoral College. The president serves a four-year term and can hold office for a total of two terms. In order to become president, candidates must be at least 35 years of age, a natural-born citizen, and have lived in the United States at least 14 years.

The president is the leader of the federal government and also the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces. The president has the power to determine what happens to legislation passed by Congress. They can sign the bill into law or to kill the legislation by veto. Congress can override a presidential veto with a vote of two-thirds or more from the members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The president also appoints federal judges (including Supreme Court justices), cabinet members, ambassadors, and the heads of commissions, boards, and other federal offices. The president also has the power to negotiate and sign treaties, which must then be ratified by a vote of two-thirds or more from the Senate. While presidents cannot make laws, they can issue executive orders. These serve to direct how laws set by Congress are to be carried out and enforced.

Other Executive Branch Offices

The vice president’s most important responsibility is to step into the presidency in cases where the president is unable to serve. They are also the president of the Senate and can break a tie should one occur during a vote.

Within the executive branch are 15 executive departments, such as the Departments of Defense, State, Justice, and Education. Cabinet members are appointed by the president to head these departments. They are responsible for advising the president on matters that fall under their department’s jurisdiction.

Another part of this branch are executive agencies, independent federal commissions, and the Executive Office of the President. These positions advise the president and help carry out the responsibilities of the government. The heads of departments, agencies, and executive officials, except for White House staff, are appointed by the president and subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Media Credits

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Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Roza Kavak
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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