Origins of the Presidency and Official Duties

Duties and Powers

What is the president’s role as chief executive?

When wearing the hat of chief executive, sometimes called chief administrator, the president has four main duties: (1) enforcing federal laws and court rulings; (2) developing various federal policies; (3) appointing federal officials; and (4) preparing the national budget. Within the executive branch, the president has broad powers to manage national affairs and the workings of the federal government. The president can issue rules, regulations, and instructions called executive orders, which have the binding force of law upon federal agencies but do not require congressional approval. The president may also negotiate with foreign countries “executive agreements” that are not subject to Senate confirmation. The president nominates—and the Senate confirms—the heads of all executive departments and agencies, together with hundreds of other high-ranking federal officials. In addition, the president solely appoints other important public officials, including aides, advisors, and hundreds of other positions. Presidential nomination of federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court, is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Another significant executive power involves granting a full or conditional pardon to anyone convicted of breaking a federal law—except in a case of impeachment. In addition, as the nation’s chief executive, the president prepares the national budget.


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