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The president of the United States has various powers and duties, which are specified in the Constitution in Article II. Although the president still has to answer to Congress, the vagueness and ambiguity of Article II have made it possible in the past for presidents to expand their authority beyond what the Constitution explicitly specifies.

Executive Powers

The president has the power to demand written reports from every executive department, making him the chief administrative officer.

  • Appointing and removing people in administrative positions, subject to the approval of the Senate
  • Recommending fiscal policies and some control of the budgeting process
  • Law enforcement powers to deploy armed forces or militia
  • Clemency authority, giving him the right to grant reprieves or pardons against the U.S.

Legislative Powers

  • The veto power allows the president to prevent laws that he doesn’t agree with. This can be overridden by Congress, but only with a two third majority vote.
  • Recommending legislation, allowing him to play a large role in the agenda of the U.S. government.
  • Passing executive orders, which could mean that he can change bureaucratic actions, procedures or establish new executive agencies.
  • Emergency powers allow the president to act in times of crisis

Foreign Policy Powers

  • Treaty Powers allow the president to make treaties with foreign countries, should a two-thirds Senate majority approve it.
  • Executive agreements are pacts that can be made by the president with other governments without Senate approval, but they may not conflict with any U.S. laws.
  • The power to ambassadors is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, but this power is generally accepted.

Military Powers

The Constitution calls the president tha “Commander in Chief” of the U.S. Navy and Army, giving him some war-making powers, but Congress alone has the power to declare war. Presidents have however often exercised the power to order the U.S. army into combat without declaring war, so they do assume the power to control the military to a certain extent.

Soft Powers

The president, as the U.S. Chief of State has ceremonial functions and act as a symbol of the U.S. He has certain annual duties and gets to receive ambassadors from foreign countries. This role does give him the “soft power” to influence people as the leader of the U.S.

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