The executive branch holds utmost significance within the United States government. Keep reading to know what the executive branch does and who is the head of the executive branch.
This particular branch is responsible for carrying out and enforcing the nation’s laws. The executive branch of the government is in charge of ensuring that people and other organisations obey the country’s laws.
The President is the head of the executive branch, obtaining all the power while working as head of the state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The executive branch includes the vice president, cabinet members, department heads, government bureaus, agencies, committees, and commissions.
The United States federal government comprises executive, legislative, and judicial branches to ensure a balanced distribution of powers. Each Department has its strength and responsibilities, and each component needs to be interrelated to execute its performance while ensuring that the government effectively works and protects citizens’ rights. Keep on reading to seek the role of the executive branch.
The executive branch of the government
The Federal government consists of three distinct branches:
- Legislative branch
- Executive branch
- Judicial branch
All of the powers of these branches conferred by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the Federal Court systematically.
To grasp the executive branch’s role, it is essential to understand its components. The primary component is the President, who is supported by advisors overseeing various vital agencies and departments. The Cabinet and independent agencies handle the daily administration and enforcement of federal laws, with each department having specific missions and responsibilities that align with different industries.
What are the essential roles of the executive branch?
Hundreds of federal agencies and commissions manage America’s space program, gather intelligence, forest protection, and proceed with the general welfare of American citizens.
Office of the President
The citizens of the United States elect the President through the electoral college, who serves for four years. The President is the leader of the federal government, who has the power to determine the fate of legislation passed by Congress.
The President has the authority to sign the bill into law or can hold the legislation by veto. However, Congress can challenge the presidential veto with a vote of two-thirds or more members from the House of Representatives and Senate.
The other vital authority of the President is appointing federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices. He also appoints cabinet members, ambassadors, heads of commissions, agencies, boards, and national offices.
The President possesses the power to negotiate and sign treaties but requires a two-thirds majority vote from the Cabinet members, primarily from the Senate. While the President can not create laws, they can issue executive orders.
Remember that presidents can not make laws but can issue executive orders. They ensure that Congress sets regulations and a proper way to carry out and enforce them.
The executive office of the President
Being President of the United States, the chosen one has to make many important decisions, and the consequences can affect the future of America. Therefore, the President needs the support to govern effectively.
For the first time in 1939, President Roosevelt created the Executive Office of the President responsible for each task, from communicating the message of the President to the people and even dealing with trade abroad.
The White House Chief of Staff deals with the Executive Office of the President (EOP); the Department contains a team of the President’s closest advisers. However, some advisers, such as the Office of Management and Budget Director, need Senate confirmation. The number of individual offices has grown in size and number as Congress and President both made them according to needs and priorities.
The most critical parts of these White House offices are the Communications Office and Press Secretary’s Office. The Press Secretary has to manage the daily briefings to the media depicting the President’s activities and future agenda. And the National Security Council, which provides advice regarding foreign policy, intelligence and national security.
Under the executive branch, there are fifteen executive departments, which may include the Department of Defence, the Environmental Agency, State, Justice, Education, Social Security Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, making more than 4 million American employees.
To head all these departments, the President will appoint cabinet members. All these selected members will be responsible for advising the President for all the circumstances under their department jurisdictions.
The executive branch of the government also pertains to administrative agencies, independent federal commissions, and the President’s executive office of the President to carry out the government’s responsibilities.
Several offices are responsible for the practicalities of maintaining the White House while providing logistical support for the President. It may include the White House Military Office, responsible for various services ranging from Air Force One to the dining facilities and Office of Presidential Advance, to prepare sites remote from the White House.
Additionally, the President appoints all the heads of departments, agencies, and other executive officials, and the Senate confirms them, but all these appointments exclude the White House staff.
Elections and voting
Federal elections occur every two years, typically on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. One-third of the Senate and each member of the House of Representatives are up for reelection in any election year.
State and local governments deal with federal elections, although different states have rules and specifications regarding elections.
State and local government
According to the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, not grant all powers are awarded to the federal government; some are reserved for the States and the people. State governments typically adhere to the principles of the three-branch structure, similar to the federal government.
The Constitution of the United States also mandates that all states uphold a republican form of government, and they might not need a three-branch structure.
The Cabinet is vital in advising the President on any subject; they require directions for each member’s office. The Cabinet consists of the President, Vice President, and heads of fifteen executive departments.
It includes all the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defence, Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, State, Labor, Transportation, Veteran Affairs, Treasury, and Attorney General.
Moreover, the Cabinet consists of the White House Chief of Staff, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Director of National Intelligence, along with the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, Council of Economic Advisers, Small Business Administration, and Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The Cabinet members are usually the President’s closest confidants, run major federal agencies and play a vital role in the presidential line. Even the line of succession continues with the Cabinet officers. All of the members of the Cabinet take the title of Secretary, and only the head of the Justice Department calls the Attorney General.
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Defence
- Department of Education
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Justice
- Department of Labor
- Department of State
- Department of Transportation
- Department of the Treasury
- Department of Veteran Affairs
Department of Agriculture
The U.S. Department of Agriculture develops and executes farming, food and agriculture policies. The Department will focus on meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers while promoting trade and agriculture production.
Additionally, the Department will ensure food safety, protect natural resources and forests, and deal with the rural issues of hunger and prosperity. They have an annual budget of $150 billion with nearly 100,000 employees.
This Department comprises 16 agencies, including
- The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
- The Food and Nutrition Service
- The Forest Service,
And much more. Moreover, many other programs promote agricultural export and provide nutrition assistance to keep the environment safe.
Department of Commerce
A government agency with the most crucial task is creating economic growth and opportunity conditions. The Department of Commerce supports U.S. businesses with various services, including getting economic and demographic data while improving the environment and ocean life.
With a budget of $8.9 billion and more than 41,000 employees, the Department ensures the scientific and technical resources, which include dealing with telecommunications and technology policy while promoting U.S. exports to assist and enforce international trade agreements.
Department of Defence
The Department provides the military with everything to protect the country while ensuring security. The Department of Defence consists of Army, Navy and Airforce, whereas the headquarter is the Pentagon.
Apart from these departments, they may need various agencies, offices, commands, and offices, which may include:
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Agency,
- The National Security Agency,
- The Pentagon Force Protection Agency, etc.
The Department of Defence is the largest government agency with 1.4 million active employees and 700,000 civilian personnel, and 1.1 million citizens serve in National Guard and Reserve forces.
Department of Education
The Department’s mission is to promote students learning to prepare them for college, career and citizenship to excel in the global economy. The Department helps citizens to achieve educational excellence and assures equal access to educational opportunities.
The Department provides federal financial aid for higher education, equity in learning opportunities, and overseas educational programs. In addition, the Department will improve education quality with a $68.6 billion budget and 4,200 employees.
Department of Energy
The Department to advance the national, economic and energy security of America. It is responsible for developing clean, reliable and affordable power while administering federal funding for scientific research.
The discovery and innovation by the Department will ensure economic competitiveness while improving the quality of life for Americans. The main task is to provide America’s nuclear security and environmental protection with the responsibility of atomic weapon protection with an approximate budget of $23 billion.
Department of Health and Human Services
It is a fundamental agency for protecting the health of citizens of America while providing essential human services for deserving ones. The Department has several agencies to conduct health and social science research, prevent disease outbreaks, assuring food and drug safety and health insurance.
It also helps administer Medicare and Medicaid to provide health coverage to Americans. Additionally, it will deal with the National Institute of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control.
The Department has an approximately $700 billion budget and about 65,000 employees. There are 11 operating divisions with eight U.S. Public Health Service agencies, two human services agencies, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
Department of Homeland Security
The Department protects the American people from various foreign and domestic threats. The board works on a broad and diverse mission set while preventing and disrupting terrorist attacks and protecting infrastructures and civil computer networks.
It facilitates lawful trade and travel, responds to natural disasters, protects borders, and regulates individuals’ migration to and from the country. Being the third largest Department of the Cabinet, the Department employs 250,000 with a $58 billion annual budget.
The Department has around 22 executive agencies, including:
- S. Secret Service
- Transportation Security Administration
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- S. Coast Guard
- S. Customers and Border Protection
- S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Infrastructure Securing Agency, etc.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The federal agency is responsible for national policies, for national policies and programs to deal with America’s housing needs. It will improve and develop the nation’s communities while enforcing fair housing laws.
The Department supports homeownership for low-income families and provides mortgage insurance and rent subsidy programs. It may include the following agencies:
- Federal Housing Administration
- Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
- The Community Development Block Grant Program, etc.
It assures fair housing, equal opportunity, and equal access to the housing of their choice, with more than 9,000 employees and a budget of approximately $40 billion.
Department of the Interior
Nation’s principal conservation agency to protect America’s natural resources, conduct scientific research, protect wildlife, offer recreation opportunities and ensure government responsibilities toward immigrants.
The Department manages 500 million acres of surface land and hundreds of dams and reservoirs. It also manages national parks and endangered species protection. It may include the following departments:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- Fish and Wildlife Service.
- The U.S. Geological Survey, etc.
The Department deals with 70,000 employees and 200,000 volunteers on a budget of $16 billion. Furthermore, the Department raises billions in revenue from energy, mineral, timber leases, grazing, land sale and issuing recreational permits.
Department of Justice
It has the mission to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States. It ensures public safety in response to foreign and domestic threats and provides federal leadership to prevent and control crime.
The Department will ensure fair administration and equal distribution of justice for all Americans. There are almost 40 components of this Department which may include:
- Drug Enforcement Administration.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- The U.S. Marshals.
- Federal Bureau of Prisons, etc.
The Attorney General is the head of the Department and chief law enforcement officer in the federal government, dealing with legal matters, advising the President and directors of the executive departments of the government and appearing before the Supreme Court. The Department is the world’s largest law office and oversees an approximately $25 billion budget.
Department of Labour
To oversee federal programs to ensure a strong American workforce. Programs under the Department assure job training, safe working conditions, minimum and overtime pay, unemployment insurance etc.
The Department has the mission to promote welfare by promoting working conditions,
ensuring healthcare and retirement benefits, advancing opportunities for profitable employment, and helping businesses find the right workforce.
The department secretary oversees a budget of $12 billion and deals with 15,000 employees. It may contain the following offices:
- The Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Statistics agency for labour economics, etc.
Department of State
It has a leading role in developing and implementing the President’s foreign policy by providing foreign assistance and representing the United States abroad. It also involves foreign military training programs, dealing with international crime and various services.
The United States maintains diplomatic relations with almost 180 countries where they must post U.S. foreign service employees with international organisations. More than 5,000 civil employees will carry out the Department’s mission in the country. At the same time, the Department is dealing with almost 30,000 employees with a budget of $35 billion.
Department of Transportation
This Department ensures a fast, accessible, safe, and efficient transport system to meet the nation’s interests and enhance the quality of life for the masses. The Department may include the following organisations:
- Federal Highway Administration.
- The Federal Aviation Administration.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- The Federal Transit Administration.
- The Federal Railroad Administration.
- Maritime Administration.
Moreover, the Department has nearly 55,000 employees and a budget of approximately $70 billion.
Department of the Treasury
It deals with inclusive economic prosperity for all Americans, focusing on global economic growth to raise America’s standard of living. The Department also supports communities, combats climate change, and promotes racial justice while fostering financial stability.
The Department operates the system to handle the financial infrastructure, including the production of coins and currency, the disbursement of payments, collecting taxes, and borrowing funds for Congressional enactments to regulate the federal government.
The Treasury Department is critical in safeguarding the financial system, putting economic sanctions against foreign threats while identifying financial support networks that threaten national security. The Treasury oversees an approximately $13 billion budget and around 100,000 employees.
Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department regulates the benefit programs for veterans and their families. The benefits may include education, pension, home loans, disability compensations, survivor support, medical care, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, and burial.
Around 25 million veterans are still alive, primarily served in war or hostility. Approximately 70 million people are eligible for veteran affairs benefits. And the Department oversees a budget of roughly $90 billion with a staff of 235,000 employees.
Who is the head of the executive branch?
The President must be a citizen of the United States and living in the country for at least 14 years. He must be at least 35 years old and elected indirectly by the people through the Electoral College system.
Through indirect elections, selected people of America may choose the President for a four-year term and have limits of two elected terms of office under the Twenty-second Amendment.
The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by the Congress. He also appoints the heads of the federal departments, including the Cabinet. The other essential part of the executive branch is a vice president, a presidential candidate in case of need.
Under Article Two of the Constitution, the President is solely responsible for the execution and enforcement of laws. All the executive departments are there to help the President run the federal government.
All executive departments join each other through administrative agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the CIA. However, the heads of these agencies are not part of the Cabinet but come under the full authority of the President.
The President holds the authority to appoint the heads of over fifty independent federal commissions, encompassing significant bodies such as the Federal Revenue Board, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Additionally, the President appoints Federal judges, ambassadors and other federal officers.
The Executive Office of the President (EOP) consists of the President’s immediate staff and other essential entities, including the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the United States Trades Representatives.
- The President has the power to sign legislation into law, or they can veto the bills of Congress. At the same time, Congress can overturn the veto with two-thirds votes from both houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
- The executive branch also conducts diplomatic connections with other nations, whereas the main power is with the President to sign the treaties and make negotiations, and the Senate ratifies that.
- The President can also issue executive orders to clarify the existing laws and to direct executive officers.
- Mr President has the power to extend pardons for federal crimes.
Responsibilities of the President
The President comes with the Constitutional requirement to give information to Congress about the State of the Union. They can choose their way to fulfil the prerequisite; traditionally, they use the State of the Union address to a Joint session of Congress to outline the agenda for the coming year.
Presidential electoral procedure
Millions of Americans vote in the presidential election every four years, which is indirect voting. They have selected a day that is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every fourth year.
People do not elect the President directly; instead, they will select the members of the Electoral College. In the population of the 50 states, all represent each member of them, and the elected people cast the votes for the President. There are a total of 358 electors in the Electoral College.
Current President of the United States
President Joe Biden is the 46th President of the United States; however, the 45th person who served as President. President Grover Cleveland came for two terms, being a 22nd and 24th President.
Previously, the President could serve unlimited terms until the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution. Now the President can go for only two terms, each lasting four years. They decided in 1951 that any President can not serve for an unlimited number of terms.
Roosevelt was elected President four times and served from 1932 until 1945, the only
President who served more than two terms. The White House is where the President’s family lives, maintaining the President’s Oval Office and the office of his and his senior staff.
The plane the President travels is called Air Force One, or he uses a Marine Corps helicopter called Marine One. For ground travel, there is an armoured presidential limousine.
The Vice President
The Vice president is primarily responsible for being present when the President cannot perform their duties under any circumstances. This process can happen anytime due to sudden death, accident, temporary incapability, or resignation.
Temporary incapacitation occurs when the vice president and Cabinet majority judge that the President cannot perform the president’s duties. The vice president came after the election through the Electoral College. Each elector usually casts one vote for the President and the other for the vice president.
In the past, the electors could only cast one vote for the President, and whoever received the second highest votes became the vice president. Then in 1804, Twelfth Amendment gave the elector the right to cast for President and vice president separately.
Vice President as head of the Senate
The vice president serves as the head of the Senate of the United States and has the right to cast a vote if any tie happens. However, the vice president hardly presides over the Senate in case of tie-breaking votes, and the Senate selects one of its members to preside over the Senate. This chosen member to head over is usually the junior member from the majority party.
The most important duty of a vice president is to deal with presidential affairs when they notice any flaw or inability. If there is some tie that occurs during a voting session, then they break the tie as being the President of the Senate.
Current Vice President of the United States
Kamala D. Harris is the 49th Vice President of America, the first woman of colour for the position. Each vice president approaches their role differently as some may opt for the specific policy portfolio, and some serve as an advisor to the President.
If we dig deeper, we will learn that nine out of forty-eight vice presidents succeeded in the presidency, and five have been elected President.
Office of the Vice President
The office of the Vice President is in the West Wing of the White House, and the other is in the nearby Executive Office Building. The Vice President also maintains the official residence at the United States Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington, D.C.
They had a peaceful mansion there since 1974 as an official home, whereas they lived in private residences. The Vice President has their limousine and flies in the same aircraft as the President. However, if the President is absent, they name the craft Air Force Two and Marine Two.
We know that the executive branch is an integral part of the government, but what does the executive branch do? It is all about enforcing the laws of the United States and ensuring that people obey them.
The President is the head of the executive branch of the United States, and he gets help from the Vice President and the Cabinet, including the heads of departments and leaders of different agencies. Here, the Cabinet is an advisory body consisting of directors of the executive departments, which usually the President appoints but needs the Senate’s confirmation.
The President leads the country with the advice of department heads and carries out the decisions made by the government. Within the framework of the Constitution, the President shoulders paramount responsibilities such as commanding the armed forces, appointing federal judges, and skillfully negotiating international treaties.
Being the head of the executive branch of the government, the President appoints ambassadors and cabinet officials who work as heads of departments. The President appoints the cabinet members but with senate approval.