Culture and Society

What are the duties of a U.S. president?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. When a president takes office, he or she swears to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The Constitution gives the president the following foreign policy responsibilities:

    • Making treaties with other countries, with Senate approval
    • Receiving foreign heads of state
    • Commanding the U.S. armed forces, as well as any state militias under federal control

    Domestically, the president is responsible for:

    • Making sure that the U.S. laws are enforced
    • Appointing public officers, such as Supreme Court judges
    • Issuing criminal pardons
    • Proposing bills to Congress
    • Presenting a State of the Union

    In addition, the president can convene or adjourn Congress as necessary. He or she also has the power of veto over Congress' decisions. Presidential terms run for four years, and the 22nd Amendment limits a president to two terms. The president is paid for his or her efforts and can be impeached for serious crimes.

    The president's inauguration speech outlines his or her vision for the nation, and the president spends much of his or her time in office working to bring this vision to fruition. He or she does so by proposing legislative action and by convincing Congress and the general public to support the presidential agenda. If Congress doesn't support the president's aims, he or she may need to negotiate, compromise or offer additional funding (also called "pork") in order to compensate members of Congress for their votes. The president can also appeal to the voters, asking them to pressure their representatives to vote in favor of his or her propositions. The president is assisted in formulating and presenting policy by the Cabinet and by various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, as well as his or her personal staff.

    The Constitution states that one of the foremost jobs of the president is to ensure that the laws of the country are followed. Various regulatory bodies, such as the Department of Labor, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission, oversee the application of federal laws in particular sectors of industry and society, working under the authority of the president. The president may, if necessary, create new organizations for this purpose. For example, President Woodrow Wilson established the Department of Labor to ensure that minimum wages and child-labor laws were being enforced.

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