1. News & Issues
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

The President of the United States -- Briefly

Basic role and powers of the President of the United States 


Article II, section 1, of the U.S. Constitution provides that "[t]he executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, . . . together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term..." In addition to the powers set forth in the Constitution, federal law has conferred upon the President specific authority and responsibility covering a wide range of matters.

Advised by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President also serves as Commander In Chief of all United States military forces deployed around the world.

The President is the administrative head of the executive branch of the Government, which includes numerous agencies, both temporary and permanent, as well as the 15 executive (Cabinet-level) departments.

The President's Cabinet

The Cabinet, a creation of custom and tradition dating back to George Washington's administration, functions at the pleasure of the President. Its purpose is to advise the President upon any subject, relating to the duties of the respective offices, on which he requests information (pursuant to Article II, section 2, of the Constitution).

The Cabinet is composed of the heads of the 15 executive departments--the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and the Attorney General. Additionally, during the Clinton administration, Cabinet-level rank was accorded to: the Chief of Staff to the President; the Director of Central Intelligence; the Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers; the Counselor to the President; the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; the Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Director, Office of Management and Budget; the Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy; the Administrator, Small Business Administration; the U.S. Representative to the United Nations; and the U.S. Trade Representative.

The Vice President also participates in Cabinet meetings, and from time to time, other individuals are invited to participate in discussions of particular subjects. A Secretary to the Cabinet is designated to provide for the orderly handling and follow-up of matters brought before the Cabinet.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.