is created by David Witten, a mathematics and computer science student at Vanderbilt University. For more information, see the "About" page.

Powers of the President

Constitutional Powers

National Security Powers

Commander in chief of the armed forces

Make treaties with other nations

Treaties are subject to the agreement of 2/3 of the Senate. Executive agreements are agreements with the heads of foreign governments, and they don't require Senate ratification. 

Nominate ambassadors

Presidents can nominate ambassadors with the agreement of the majority of the Senate.

Receive ambassadors from other countries

This is a bigger deal than it might seem. By accepting ambassadors from other nations, they recognize other governments as countries. For example, if the US were to receive ambassadors from Taiwan, it would mean that it recognizes it as a country.

Legislative Powers

Inform Congress about the state of the union

The president always has to inform Congress about the state of this country, but it doesn't have to be in the form of a speech. In the beginning, George Washington gave speeches, but Thomas Jefferson discontinued it, as it was too similar to a monarchial speech from the throne. In fact, the first president to give a State of the Union address since then was Woodrow Wilson in 1913. 

Recommend legislature to Congress

Presidents can recommend legislation, such as Obama recommending the signing of the Affordable Care Act.

Convene both houses of Congress

This is only done on extraordinary occasions. The last time this was done was in 1948, when Truman convened Congress. In total, this power has been used 27 times. 

Adjourn Congress if the House and Senate cannot agree on adjournment

This is also very rare.

Veto Legislation

The president can veto a bill in two ways. 

1. He can formally veto it.
This means that he doesn't allow the passage of a bill. This can be overridden by 2/3 of both houses.
2. He can use a pocket veto
This means that if Congress adjourns within 10 days after the signing of a bill, and the president doesn't sign it, the bill doesn't pass. If Congress still is in session after 10 days, then the bill passes.

Administrative Powers

"Take care that laws be faithfully executed"

Nominate officials

Request written opinions of administrative officials

Fill administrative vacancies during congressional recesses

Judicial Powers

Grant reprieves and pardons for federal offenses

A reprieve pushes back your sentence, and a pardon decriminalizes you. A famous pardon was when Ford pardoned Nixon in 1974. 

Nominate federal judges

Federal judges must be confirmed by a majority of the Senate. They usually come from the president's party.

Informal Powers

Leader of their party

The president is the leader of his/her political party. For example, Barack Obama represents the Democratic Party, while Ronald Reagan represented the ideals of the Republican Party.

Make Executive Agreements

Mentioned before, they are like treaties with the leader of another country that don't require support of the Senate.

Issue Executive Orders

Executive orders are orders that act as laws, but they can be undone by the next president. 

Mobilize the Public

The president can use the public to gain support for a specific issue. For example, Reagan gained the public's support for his 1981 tax cut bill. 

David Witten

Voter Turnout