Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
U.S. Government

The Executive Branch

The White House

The White House

The chief executive of the United States is the president, who together with the vice-president is elected to a four year term. As a result of a 1951 constitutional amendment, a president may be elected to only two terms. The president's powers are formidable but not unlimited. As the chief formulator of national policy, the president proposes legislation to Congress and may veto any bill passed by Congress. The president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The executive branch of the Government is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land. The Vice President, department heads (Cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies assist in this capacity. Unlike the powers of the President, their responsibilities are not defined in the Constitution but each has special powers and functions.

As the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama presides over the executive branch, which includes 14 executive departments, the Executive Office of the President and numerous other independent agencies. The day-to-day enforcement and administration of federal law is in the hands of the various executive departments, created by Congress to deal with specific areas of national and international affairs. The heads of the departments, chosen by the President and approved by the Senate, form a council of advisers known as the President's Cabinet.

Abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.