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The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., federal di ...

United States
, a
federal republic A federal republic is a federation of states with a republic A republic ( la, res publica, links=yes, meaning "public affair") is a List of forms of government, form of government in which "power is held by the people and their elected repr ...
in
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
, composed of 50
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
, a
federal district A federal district is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are gen ...
(District of Columbia, where the government is based), five major
self-governing territories __NOTOC__ Self-governance, self-government, or self-rule is the ability of a person or group to exercise all necessary functions of regulation without intervention from an external authority (sociology), authority. It may refer to personal cond ...
and several
island possessions
island possessions
. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches:
legislative A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday l ...

legislative
,
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief exec ...
, and
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authori ...
, whose powers are vested by the
U.S. Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the Supremacy Clause, supreme law of the United States, United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first t ...

U.S. Constitution
in the
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different countries, constituent state A constituent state is a state (polity), state entity that constitutes a administrative division, part of a sovereign state. A constituent state h ...

Congress
, the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of Congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the
Supreme Court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ...

Supreme Court
.


Naming

The full name of the republic is "United States of America". No other name appears in the Constitution, and this is the name that appears on money, in treaties, and in legal cases to which it is a party (e.g. '' Charles T. Schenck v. United States''). The terms "Government of the United States of America" or "United States Government" are often used in official documents to represent the federal government as distinct from the states collectively. In casual conversation or writing, the term "Federal Government" is often used, and the term "National Government" is sometimes used. The terms "Federal" and "National" in government agency or program names generally indicate affiliation with the federal government (e.g.
Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic Intelligence agency, intelligence and Security agency, security service of the United States and its principal Federal law enforcement in the United States, federal law enforcement agen ...

Federal Bureau of Investigation
,
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA ) is an American scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, and the Earth's atmosphere, atmosphere. ...
,
National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechan ...
). Because the
seat of government The seat of government is (as defined by ''Brewer's Politics'') "the building, complex of buildings or the city from which a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (po ...
is in Washington, D.C., "Washington" is commonly used as a
metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of pe ...
for the federal government.


History

The United States government is based on the principles of
federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government nor ...
and
republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use t ...
, in which power is shared between the federal government and state governments. The interpretation and execution of these principles, including what powers the federal government should have and how those powers can be exercised, have been debated ever since the adoption of the Constitution. Some make a case for expansive federal powers while others argue for a more limited role for the central government in relation to individuals, the states, or other recognized entities. Since the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and south ...
, the powers of the federal government have generally expanded greatly, although there have been periods since that time of legislative branch dominance (e.g., the decades immediately following the Civil War) or when
states' rights In United States, American politics of the United States, political discourse, states' rights are political powers held for the state governments of the United States, state governments rather than the federal government of the United States, fed ...
proponents have succeeded in limiting federal power through legislative action, executive prerogative or by a constitutional interpretation by the courts. One of the theoretical pillars of the U.S. Constitution is the idea of "
checks and balances Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict ...
" among the powers and responsibilities of the three branches of American government: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. For example, while the legislative branch (
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different countries, constituent state A constituent state is a state (polity), state entity that constitutes a administrative division, part of a sovereign state. A constituent state h ...
) has the power to create law, the executive branch under the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...
can
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

veto
any legislation—an act which, in turn, can be overridden by Congress. The president nominates judges to the nation's highest judiciary authority, the
Supreme Court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ...

Supreme Court
, but those nominees must be approved by Congress. The Supreme Court, in turn, can invalidate unconstitutional laws passed by the Congress. These and other examples are examined in more detail in the text below.


Legislative branch

The
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with ...

United States Congress
, under Article I of the Constitution, is the legislative branch of the federal government. It is
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interac ...
, comprising the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
and the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
.


Makeup of Congress


House of Representatives

The House currently consists of 435 voting members, each of whom represents a
congressional district Congressional districts, also known as Electoral district, electoral districts, legislative districts, wards, and electorates in other nations, are divisions of a larger administrative region that represent the population of a region in the larger c ...
. The number of representatives each state has in the House is based on each state's population as determined in the most recent
United States Census The United States Census (plural censuses or census) is a census A census is the procedure of systematically enumerating, and acquiring and recording information about the members of a given Statistical population, population. This term is used ...
. All 435 representatives serve a two-year term. Each state receives a minimum of one representative in the House. In order to be elected as a representative, an individual must be at least 25 years of age, must have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and must live in the state that they represent. There is no limit on the number of terms a representative may serve. In addition to the 435 voting members, there are 6 non-voting members, consisting of 5 delegates and one
resident commissioner Resident commissioner was or is an official title of several different types of commissioner A commissioner is, in principle, a member of a Regulatory agency, commission or an individual who has been given a Wiktionary: commission, commission ...
. There is one delegate each from the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Washington Metro, National Air and Space Museum, Air and Space ...
,
Guam Guam (; ch, Guåhan ) is an Unincorporated_territories_of_the_United_States, organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the Micronesia subregion of the western Pacific Ocean. It is the List of extreme points of the United State ...

Guam
, the
Virgin Islands The Virgin Islands ( es, Islas Vírgenes) are an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. They are geologically and biogeographically the easternmost part of the Greater Antilles, the northern islands belonging to the Puerto Rico Trench and St. Croix b ...
, American Samoa, and the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands ) , anthem_link = List of U.S. state songs , image_map = Northern Mariana Islands on the globe (Southeast Asia centered) (small islands magnified).svg , map_alt = Location of the Northern Mariana Islands , map_caption = Location of the Nort ...
, and the
resident commissioner Resident commissioner was or is an official title of several different types of commissioner A commissioner is, in principle, a member of a Regulatory agency, commission or an individual who has been given a Wiktionary: commission, commission ...
from
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated t ...

Puerto Rico
.


Senate

In contrast, the Senate is made up of two senators from each state, regardless of population. There are currently 100 senators (2 from each of the 50 states), who each serve six-year terms. Approximately one-third of the Senate stands for election every two years.


Different powers

The House and Senate each have particular exclusive powers. For example, the Senate must approve (give "
advice and consent Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bills and in other legal or constitutional contexts. It describes either of two situations: where a weak executive branch The executive is the branch of gover ...
" to) many important presidential appointments, including cabinet officers, federal judges (including nominees to the Supreme Court), department secretaries (heads of federal executive branch departments), U.S. military and naval officers, and ambassadors to foreign countries. All legislative bills for raising revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. The approval of both chambers is required to pass all legislation, which then may only become law by being signed by the president (or, if the president
vetoes
vetoes
the bill, both houses of Congress then re-pass the bill, but by a
two-thirds majority A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority or special majority, is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a majority A majority, also called ...
of each chamber, in which case the bill becomes law without the president's signature). The powers of Congress are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution; all other powers are reserved to the states and the people. The Constitution also includes the "
Necessary and Proper Clause The Necessary and Proper Clause, also known as the Elastic Clause, is a clause in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This foun ...
", which grants Congress the power to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers". Members of the House and Senate are elected by
first-past-the-post In a first-past-the-post (FPTP or FPP; sometimes formally called single-member plurality voting or SMP) electoral system, voters cast their vote for a candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins (irrespective ...
voting in every state except
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard v ...

Louisiana
and
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Wester ...
, which have runoffs, and
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States, bordered by New Hampshire to the west; the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast; and the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Qu ...

Maine
and
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Yup'ik The Yup'ik or Yupiaq (sg & pl) and Yupiit or Yupiat (pl), also Central Alaskan Yup'ik, Central Yup'ik, Alaskan Yup'ik ( own name ''Yup'ik'' sg ''Yupiik'' dual ''Yupiit'' pl; rus ...
, which use
ranked-choice voting Instant-runoff voting (IRV), also sometimes referred to as the alternative vote (AV), preferential voting, or, in the United States, ranked-choice voting (RCV), though these names are also used for other systems, is a type of ranked preferential ...
.


Impeachment of federal officers

Congress has the power to remove the president, federal judges, and other federal officers from office. The House of Representatives and Senate have separate roles in this process. The House must first vote to "impeach" the official. Then, a trial is held in the Senate to decide whether the official should be removed from office. , three presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives:
Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 July 31, 1875) was the 17th president of the United States, serving from 1865 to 1869. He assumed the presidency as he was vice president at the time of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln Abraham L ...

Andrew Johnson
,
Bill Clinton William Jefferson Clinton (; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. He previously served as governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and again from ...

Bill Clinton
, and
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American Political career of Donald Trump, politician, Media career of Donald Trump, media personality, and Business career of Donald Trump, businessman who served as the 45th president of the U ...
(twice). None of the three were removed from office following trial in the Senate.


Congressional procedures

Article I, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives each chamber the power to "determine the rules of its proceedings". From this provision were created
congressional committees upright=1.2, The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing testimony in the Hart Senate Office Building in 2007. A congressional committee is a legislative sub-organization in the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S ...
, which do the work of drafting legislation and conducting congressional investigations into national matters. The
108th Congress The 108th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress Th ...
(2003–2005) had 19 standing committees in the House and 17 in the Senate, plus 4 joint permanent committees with members from both houses overseeing the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the ''de facto'' national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The libra ...

Library of Congress
, printing, taxation, and the economy. In addition, each house may name special, or select, committees to study specific problems. Today, much of the congressional workload is borne by the subcommittees, of which there are around 150.


Powers of Congress

The Constitution grants numerous powers to Congress. Enumerated in Article I, Section 8, these include the powers to levy and collect
tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law, a legal person is any person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attr ...
es; to coin money and regulate its value; provide for punishment for counterfeiting; establish post offices and roads, issue patents, create federal courts inferior to the
Supreme Court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ...

Supreme Court
, combat
piracies
piracies
and
felonies A felony is traditionally considered a crime of high seriousness, whereas a misdemeanor is regarded as less serious. The term "felony" originated from English common law (from the French medieval word "félonie") to describe an offense that result ...
, declare
war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, g ...

war
, raise and support
armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch, service branch ...
, provide and maintain a
navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a Nation's armed forces principally designated for naval warfare, naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral zone, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and ...
, make rules for the regulation of land and naval forces, provide for, arm and discipline the
militia A militia () is generally an army or some other Military organization, fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a country, or subjects of a state, who may perform military service during a time of need, as opposed to a pro ...
, exercise exclusive legislation in the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Washington Metro, National Air and Space Museum, Air and Space ...
, regulate
interstate commerce The Commerce Clause describes an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven ar ...
, and to make laws necessary to properly execute powers. Over the two centuries since the United States was formed, many disputes have arisen over the limits on the powers of the federal government. These disputes have often been the subject of lawsuits that have ultimately been decided by the
United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the Federal judiciary of the United States, federal judiciary of the United States of America. It has ultimate and largely Procedures of the Supreme Court of the United S ...

United States Supreme Court
.


Congressional oversight

Congressional oversight is intended to prevent waste and fraud, protect
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation Legislation is law which has been promulgation, promulgated (or "enactment of a bill, enacted") by a legislature or other Gover ...
and individual rights, ensure executive compliance with the law, gather information for making laws and educating the public, and evaluate executive performance. It applies to cabinet departments, executive agencies, regulatory commissions, and the presidency. Congress's oversight function takes many forms: * Committee inquiries and hearings * Formal consultations with and reports from the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
* Senate advice and consent for presidential nominations and for treaties * House
impeachment Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
proceedings and subsequent Senate trials * House and Senate proceedings under the 25th Amendment if the president becomes disabled or if the office of the
vice president A vice president (in British English: vice-president for governments and director for businesses) is an Corporate officer, officer in government or business who is below a President (corporate title), president (managing director/Chief Executive ...
falls vacant * Informal meetings between legislators and executive officials * Congressional membership: each state is allocated a number of seats based on its representation (or ostensible representation, in the case of D.C.) in the House of Representatives. Each state is allocated two senators regardless of its population. , the District of Columbia elects a non-voting representative to the House of Representatives along with American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands.


Executive branch


President


Executive powers and duties

The executive branch is established in
Article Two of the United States Constitution Article Two of the United States Constitution establishes the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. T ...
, which vests executive power in a president of the United States. Article II, Constitution of the United States of America The president is both the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "
he head of state He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun) In Modern English, ''he'' is a Grammatical number, singular, Grammatical gender, masculine, Grammatical person, third-person personal pronoun, pronoun. Morphology In Standard English, Standard M ...
being an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international perso ...
(performing ceremonial functions) and the
head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presides over a cabinet (gover ...
(the chief executive). The Constitution directs the president to " take care that the laws be faithfully executed" and requires the president to swear or affirm to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Legal scholars William P. Marshall and Saikrishna B. Prakash write of the Clause: "the President may neither breach federal law nor order his or her subordinates to do so, for defiance cannot be considered faithful execution. The Constitution also incorporates the English bars on dispensing or suspending the law, with some supposing that the Clause itself prohibits both."William P. Marshall & Saikrishna B. Prakash
Article II, Section 3: Common Interpretation
National Constitution Center (2021).
Many presidential actions are undertaken via
executive order An executive order is a means of issuing federal directives in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily lo ...
s, presidential proclamations, and
presidential memoranda A presidential memorandum is a type of presidential directive, directive issued by the president of the United States to manage and govern the actions, practices, and policies of the various departments and agencies found under the executive branc ...
. The president is the commander-in-chief of the
armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinct m ...

armed forces
. Under the
Reception Clause Article Two of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of gover ...
, the president is empowered to "receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers"; the president has broad authority to conduct foreign relations, is generally considered to have the sole power of
diplomatic recognition Diplomatic recognition in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guideli ...
, and is the United States' chief diplomat, although the Congress also has an important role in legislating on foreign affairs, and can, for example, "institute a trade embargo, declare war upon a foreign government that the President had recognized, or decline to appropriate funds for an embassy in that country." The president may also negotiate and sign treaties, but ratifying treaties requires the consent of two-thirds of the Senate. Article II's
Appointments Clause The Appointments Clause is part of Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This founding document, originally comprisi ...
provides that the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States" while providing that "Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments." These appointments delegate "by legal authority a portion of the sovereign powers of the federal government." The Constitution grants the president the "Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment"; this
clemency A pardon is a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislat ...
power includes the power to issue absolute or conditional pardons, and to issue commute sentences, to remit fines, and to issue general amnesties. The presidential clemency power extends only to federal crimes, and not to state crimes. The president has informal powers beyond his or her formal powers. For example, the president has major agenda-setting powers to influence lawmaking and policymaking, and typically has a major role as the leader of his or her political party.


Election, succession, and term limits

The
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
and
vice president A vice president (in British English: vice-president for governments and director for businesses) is an Corporate officer, officer in government or business who is below a President (corporate title), president (managing director/Chief Executive ...
are normally elected as
running mates A running mate is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relat ...
by the
Electoral College An electoral college is a set of Voting, electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or Legal entity, entities, with each organization, political party or e ...

Electoral College
; each
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
has a number of electoral votes equal to the size of its Congressional delegation (''i.e.'', its number of Representatives in the House plus its two Senators). (The
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Washington Metro, National Air and Space Museum, Air and Space ...
has a number of electoral votes "equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State"). A President may also be seated by succession. As originally drafted, there was no limit to the time a President could serve, however the Twenty-second Amendment, ratified in 1951, originally limits any president to serving two four-year terms (8 years); the amendment specifically "caps the service of a president at 10 years" by providing that "if a person succeeds to the office of president without election and serves less than two years, he may run for two full terms; otherwise, a person succeeding to office of president can serve no more than a single elected term." Amendment XXII to the United States Constitution


Veto power, impeachment, and other issues

Under the
Presentment Clause The Presentment Clause (Article I, Section 7, Clauses 2 and 3) of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising ...
of Article I, a bill that passes both chambers of Congress shall be presented to the president, who may sign the bill into law or
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

veto
the bill by returning it to the chamber where it originated. If the president neither signs nor vetoes a bill "within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him" it becomes a law without the president's signature, "unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return in which Case it shall not be a Law" (called a
pocket veto#REDIRECT Pocket veto A pocket veto is a legislative maneuver that allows a president or another official with veto power to exercise that power over a bill by taking no action (keeping it in their pocket) instead of affirmatively vetoing it. This ...
). A presidential veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress vote to override the veto; this occurs relatively infrequently. The president may be
impeached Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body or other legally constituted tribunal initiates charges against a public official An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual ...
by a majority in the House and removed from office by a two-thirds majority in the Senate for "
treason Treason is the crime of attacking a Sovereign state, state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to Coup d'etat, overthrow its government, Esp ...
,
bribery Bribery is defined by '' Black's Law Dictionary'' as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official, or other person, in charge of a public or legal Law is a system A system ...

bribery
, or other
high crimes and misdemeanors The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct by officials. Offenses by officials also include ordinary crimes, but perhaps with different standards of proof and punishment than for non-officials, on the grounds tha ...
". The president may not dissolve Congress, but has the power to adjourn Congress whenever the House and Senate cannot agree when to adjourn; no president has ever used this power. The president also has the constitutional power to, "on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them"; this power has been used " to consider nominations, war, and emergency legislation." This Section invests the President with the discretion to convene Congress on “extraordinary occasions"; this
special session In a legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that s ...
power that has been used to call the chambers to consider urgent matters.


Vice president

The vice president is the second-highest official in rank of the federal government. The vice president's duties and powers are established in the legislative branch of the federal government under Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 4 and 5 as the
president of the Senate President of the Senate is a title often given to the presiding officer of a senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative a ...

president of the Senate
; this means that they are the designated presiding officer of the Senate. In that capacity, the vice president has the authority (''
ex officio An ''ex officio'' member is a member of a body (notably a board, committee, council) who is part of it by virtue of holding another office. The term ''List of Latin phrases (E)#ex officio, ex officio'' is Latin, meaning literally 'from the office', ...
'', for they are not an elected member of the Senate) to cast a tie-breaking vote. Pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment, the vice president presides over the
joint session of Congress A joint session of the United States Congress is a gathering of members of the two chambers of the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government ...
when it convenes to count the vote of the
Electoral College An electoral college is a set of Voting, electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or Legal entity, entities, with each organization, political party or e ...
. As first in the U.S. presidential line of succession, the vice president's duties and powers move to the executive branch when becoming president upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president, which has happened nine times in U.S. history. Lastly, in the case of a Twenty-fifth Amendment succession event, the vice president would become acting president, assuming all of the powers and duties of president, except being designated as president. Accordingly, by circumstances, the Constitution designates the vice president as routinely in the legislative branch, or succeeding to the executive branch as president, or possibly being in both as acting president pursuant to the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Because of circumstances, the overlapping nature of the duties and powers attributed to the office, the title of the office and other matters, such has generated a spirited scholarly dispute regarding attaching an exclusive branch designation to the office of vice president.


Cabinet, executive departments, and agencies

The daily enforcement and administration of federal laws is in the hands of the various federal executive departments, created by Congress to deal with specific areas of national and international affairs. The heads of the 15 departments, chosen by the president and approved with the "advice and consent" of the U.S. Senate, form a council of advisers generally known as the president's "Cabinet". Once confirmed, these "cabinet officers" serve at the pleasure of the president. In addition to departments, a number of staff organizations are grouped into the
Executive Office of the President Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief e ...
. These include the
White House The White House is the official residence An official residence is the House, residence at which a nation's head of state, head of government, governor, Clergy, religious leader, leaders of international organizations, or other senio ...

White House
staff, the
National Security Council#REDIRECT National security council A National Security Council (NSC) is usually an executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State ...
, the
Office of Management and Budget The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States The Executive Office of the President (EOP) comprises the offices and agencies that support the work of the pres ...
, the
Council of Economic Advisers The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) is a United States agency within the Executive Office of the President established in 1946, which advises the President of the United States on economic policy. The CEA provides much of the empirical resear ...

Council of Economic Advisers
, the
Council on Environmental Quality The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is a division of the Executive Office of the President Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the admin ...
, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the
Office of National Drug Control Policy The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is a component of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. The Director of the ONDCP, colloquially known as the Drug Czar, heads the office. "Drug Czar" was a term first used ...
, and the
Office of Science and Technology Policy The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is a department of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily loc ...
. The employees in these United States government agencies are called federal civil servants. There are also
independent agencies A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a term that has different meanings in different jurisdictions. In some cases it is the technical term used for a traditional nonprofit ch ...
such as the
United States Postal Service The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service) is an independent agency A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a ter ...
(USPS), the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA; ) is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and space Space is the boundless three-dimensional ...

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA), the
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as "The Agency" and "The Company", is a civilian intelligence agency, foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, officially tasked with gathering, proc ...
(CIA), the
Environmental Protection Agency A biophysical environment is a biotic Biotics describe living or once living components of a community; for example organisms, such as animals and plants. Biotic may refer to: *Life, the condition of living organisms *Biology, the study of life ...
(EPA), and the
United States Agency for International Development The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a term that has different meanings in different ...
(USAID). In addition, there are government-owned corporations such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.


Judicial branch

The Judiciary, under Article III of the Constitution, explains and applies the laws. This branch does this by hearing and eventually making decisions on various legal cases.


Overview of the federal judiciary

Article III section I of the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court of the United States and authorizes the United States Congress to establish inferior courts as their need shall arise. Section I also establishes a lifetime tenure for all federal judges and states that their compensation may not be diminished during their time in office. Article II section II establishes that all federal judges are to be appointed by the president and confirmed by the United States Senate. The Judiciary Act of 1789 subdivided the nation jurisdictionally into United States federal judicial district, judicial districts and created federal courts for each district. The three tiered structure of this act established the basic structure of the national judiciary: the Supreme Court, 13 courts of appeals, 94 district courts, and two courts of special jurisdiction. Congress retains the power to re-organize or even abolish federal courts lower than the Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court decides "cases and controversies"—matters pertaining to the federal government, disputes between states, and interpretation of the United States Constitution, and, in general, can declare legislation or executive action made at any level of the government as Judicial review in the United States, unconstitutional, nullifying the law and creating precedent for future law and decisions. The United States Constitution does not specifically mention the power of Judicial review in the United States, judicial review (the power to declare a law unconstitutional). The power of judicial review was asserted by John Marshall, Chief Justice Marshall in the landmark Supreme Court Case ''Marbury v. Madison'' (1803). There have been instances in the past where such declarations have been ignored by the other two branches. Below the U.S. Supreme Court are the United States court of appeals, United States Courts of Appeals, and below them in turn are the United States district court, United States District Courts, which are the general trial courts for federal law, and for certain controversies between litigants who are not deemed citizens of the same state ("diversity jurisdiction"). There are three levels of federal courts with ''general jurisdiction'', meaning that these courts handle criminal cases and civil lawsuits between individuals. Other courts, such as the United States bankruptcy court, bankruptcy courts and the United States Tax Court, Tax Court, are specialized courts handling only certain kinds of cases ("subject matter jurisdiction"). The Bankruptcy Courts are "under" the supervision of the district courts, and, as such, are not considered part of the "Article Three of the United States Constitution, Article III" judiciary. Also as such, their judges do not have lifetime tenure, nor are they Constitutionally exempt from diminution of their remuneration. The Tax Court is not an Article III court (but is, instead an "Article I Court"). The district courts are the trial courts wherein cases that are considered under the Judicial Code (Title 28, United States Code) consistent with the jurisdictional precepts of "federal question jurisdiction" and "diversity jurisdiction" and "pendent jurisdiction" can be filed and decided. The district courts can also hear cases under "removal jurisdiction", wherein a case brought in State court meets the requirements for diversity jurisdiction, and one party litigant chooses to "remove" the case from state court to federal court. The United States Courts of Appeals are appellate courts that hear appeals of cases decided by the district courts, and some direct appeals from administrative agencies, and some interlocutory appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court hears appeals from the decisions of the courts of appeals or state supreme courts, and in addition has original jurisdiction over a few cases. The judicial power extends to cases arising under the Constitution, an Act of Congress; a U.S. treaty; cases affecting ambassadors, Diplomatic rank, ministers and Consul (representative), consuls of foreign countries in the U.S.; cases and controversies to which the federal government is a party; controversies between states (or their citizens) and foreign nations (or their citizens or subjects); and bankruptcy cases (collectively "federal-question jurisdiction"). The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, Eleventh Amendment removed from federal jurisdiction cases in which citizens of one state were the plaintiffs and the government of another state was the defendant. It did not disturb federal jurisdiction in cases in which a state government is a plaintiff and a citizen of another state the defendant. The power of the federal courts extends both to civil actions for damages and other redress, and to criminal cases arising under federal law. The interplay of the Supremacy Clause and Article III has resulted in a complex set of relationships between state and federal courts. Federal courts can sometimes hear cases arising under state law pursuant to diversity jurisdiction, state courts can decide certain matters involving federal law, and a handful of federal claims are primarily reserved by federal statute to the state courts (for example, those arising from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991). Both court systems thus can be said to have exclusive jurisdiction in some areas and concurrent jurisdiction in others. The U.S. Constitution safeguards judicial independence by providing that federal judges shall hold office "during good behavior"; in practice, this usually means they serve until they die, retire, or resign. A judge who commits an offense while in office may be impeachment, impeached in the same way as the president or other officials of the federal government. U.S. judges are appointed by the president, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Another Constitutional provision prohibits Congress from reducing the pay of any Article III judge (Congress is able to set a lower salary for all future judges that take office after the reduction, but may not decrease the rate of pay for judges already in office).


Relationships between state and federal courts

Separate from, but not entirely independent of, this federal court system are the court systems of each state, each dealing with, in addition to federal law when not deemed preempted, a state's own laws, and having its own court rules and procedures. Although state governments and the federal government are legally ''dual sovereigns'', the Supreme Court of the United States is in many cases the appellate court from the State Supreme Courts (e.g., absent the Court countenancing the applicability of the ''Adequate and independent state ground, doctrine of adequate and independent State grounds''). The State supreme court, Supreme Courts of each state are by this doctrine the final authority on the interpretation of the applicable state's laws and Constitution. Many state constitution provisions are equal in breadth to those of the U.S. Constitution, but are considered "parallel" (thus, where, for example, the right to privacy pursuant to a state constitution is broader than the federal right to privacy, and the asserted ground is explicitly held to be "independent", the question can be finally decided in a State Supreme Court—the U.S. Supreme Court will decline to take jurisdiction). A State Supreme Court, other than of its own accord, is bound ''only'' by the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of federal law, but is ''not'' bound by interpretation of federal law by the federal court of appeals for the federal circuit in which the state is included, or even the federal district courts located in the state, a result of the ''dual sovereigns'' concept. Conversely, a federal district court hearing a matter involving only a question of state law (usually through diversity jurisdiction) must apply the substantive law of the state in which the court sits, a result of the application of the ''Erie Doctrine''; however, at the same time, the case is heard under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence instead of state procedural rules (that is, the application of the ''Erie Doctrine'' only extends to a requirement that a federal court asserting diversity jurisdiction apply ''substantive'' state law, but not ''procedural'' state law, which may be different). Together, the laws of the federal and state governments form Law of the United States, U.S. law.


Budget

The budget document often begins with the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
's proposal to
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different countries, constituent state A constituent state is a state (polity), state entity that constitutes a administrative division, part of a sovereign state. A constituent state h ...
recommending funding levels for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1 and ending on September 30 of the year following. The fiscal year refers to the year in which it ends. For fiscal year (FY) 2018, the federal government spent $4.11 trillion. Spending equalled 20.3% of gross domestic product (GDP), equal to the 50-year average.CBO Monthly Budget Review-November 2018
/ref> The deficit equalled $779 billion, 3.8 percent of GDP. Tax revenue amounted to $3.33 trillion, with receipt categories including individual income taxes ($1,684B or 51%), Social Security/Social Insurance taxes ($1,171B or 35%), and corporate taxes ($205B or 6%).


Elections and voting

Voting rights in the United States, Suffrage, known as the ability to vote, has changed significantly over time. In the early years of the United States, voting was considered a matter for state governments, and was commonly restricted to white men who owned land. Direct elections were mostly held only for the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures, although what specific bodies were elected by the electorate varied from state to state. Under this original system, both United States Senate, senators representing each state in the U.S. Senate were chosen by a majority vote of the state legislature. Since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, members of both houses of Congress have been directly elected. Today, U.S. citizens have almost universal suffrage under equal protection of the laws from the age of 18, regardless of race, gender, or wealth. The only significant exception to this is the Felony disenfranchisement, disenfranchisement of convicted felons, and in some states former felons as well. Under the U.S. Constitution, the representation of Territories of the United States, U.S. territories and the federal district of
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Washington Metro, National Air and Space Museum, Air and Space ...
in Congress is District of Columbia voting rights, limited: while residents of the District of Columbia are subject to federal laws and federal taxes, their only congressional representative is a Delegate (United States Congress), non-voting delegate; however, they have participated in presidential elections since March 29, 1961. Residents of
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated t ...

Puerto Rico
other than federal employees do not pay Income tax in the United States, federal personal income taxes on income that has its source in Puerto Rico,Alexia Fernández Campbell
Puerto Rico pays taxes. The US is obligated to help it just as much as Texas and Florida.
''Vox'' (October 4, 2017).
David L. Brumbaugh
U.S. Federal Taxes in Puerto Rico
Congressional Research Service (October 30, 2000).
and do not pay most federal excise taxes (for example, the federal gasoline tax); however, Puerto Ricans pay all other federal taxes, including the federal payroll taxes that FICA tax, fund Social Security and Medicare; the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, FUTA tax; and business, gift tax, gift, and estate taxes. Puerto Rico is represented in the Congress by a nonvoting Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, Resident Commissioner, a nonvoting delegate.


State, tribal, and local governments

State governments have the greatest influence over most Americans' daily lives. The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Tenth Amendment prohibits the federal government from exercising any power not delegated to it by the Constitution; as a result, states handle the majority of issues most relevant to individuals within their jurisdiction. Because state governments are not authorized to print currency, they generally have to raise revenue through either taxes or bonds. As a result, state governments tend to impose severe budget cuts or raise taxes any time the economy is faltering. Each state has its own written constitution, government and code of laws. The Constitution stipulates only that each state must have, "a Republican Government". Therefore, there are often great differences in law and procedure between individual states, concerning issues such as property, crime, health and education, amongst others. The highest elected official of each state is the Governor#United States, Governor, with below him being the Lieutenant governor (United States), Lieutenant Governor. Each state also has an elected state legislature (US), state legislature (bicameralism is a feature of every state except Nebraska), whose members represent the voters of the state. Each state maintains its own State court (United States), state court system. In some states, supreme and lower court justices are elected by the people; in others, they are appointed, as they are in the federal system. As a result of the Supreme Court case ''Worcester v. Georgia'', Tribal sovereignty in the United States, American Indian tribes are considered "domestic dependent nations" that operate as tribal sovereignty, sovereign governments subject to federal authority but, in some cases, outside of the jurisdiction of state governments. Hundreds of laws, executive orders and court cases have modified the governmental status of tribes Face-to-face (philosophy), vis-à-vis individual states, but the two have continued to be recognized as separate bodies. Tribal governments vary in robustness, from a simple council used to manage all aspects of tribal affairs, to large and complex bureaucracies with several branches of government. Tribes are currently encouraged to form their own governments, with power resting in elected tribal councils, elected tribal chairpersons, or religiously appointed leaders (as is the case with pueblos). Tribal citizenship and voting rights are typically restricted to individuals of native descent, but tribes are free to set whatever citizenship requirements they wish. The institutions that are responsible for local government within states are typically town, city, or county boards, water management districts, fire management districts, library districts and other similar governmental units which make laws that affect their particular area. These laws concern issues such as traffic, the sale of alcohol and the keeping of animals. The highest elected official of a town or city is usually the Mayor#United States, mayor. In New England, towns operate in a Direct democracy, direct democratic fashion, and in some states, such as Rhode Island, Connecticut, and some parts of Massachusetts, counties have little or no power, existing only as geographic distinctions. In other areas, county governments have more power, such as to collect taxes and maintain Policing in the United States, law enforcement agencies.


See also


President

* Executive Office of the President of the United States, Executive Office * Line-item veto in the United States, Line-item veto


Courts

* United States district court, District courts * United States federal courts, Federal courts * United States federal judicial circuits, Federal judicial circuit


Law

* United States Code, U.S. Code


Agencies

* List of federal agencies in the United States, Federal agencies


States and territories

* Political divisions of the United States, Political divisions * United States territory, U.S. territory


Works and websites

* Business.gov * Copyright status of work by the U.S. government * USA.gov


Notes


References


Further reading

* Greenstein, Fred I. et al. ''Evolution of the modern presidency : a bibliographical survey'' (1977) bibliography and annotation of 2500 scholarly books and articles
online
*


External links


USA.gov
the official U.S. Government portal. {{Authority control Federal government of the United States, Federalism in the United States 1789 establishments in the United States