ad hoc structure
A method in which the president organizes his personal staff that employs task forces, committees, and informal groups of friends dealing directly with him.
Budget Reform Act of 1974
A congressional effort to control presidential impoundments. It requires, among other things, that the president spend all appropriated funds unless he first tells Congress which funds he wishes not to spend and Congress, within forty-five days, agrees to delete the items. If he wishes simply to delay spending money, he need only inform Congress, but Congress in turn can refuse the delay by passing a resolution requiring immediate release of the funds.
By custom, the heads of the fourteen major executive departments who meet to discuss matters with the president. These “secretaries” receive their positions by presidential nomination and confirmation by the Senate. They meet as a group from time to time for the purpose of discussing current policy proposals and advising the chief executive of their recommendations. (Chief executives usually also maintain one or more additional advisory councils that may well be more influential than the more formal cabinet.) They can be removed at the pleasure of the president.
A method in which the president organizes his personal staff that has cabinet secretaries and assistants reporting directly to the president.
A government in which one party controls the White House and a different party controls one or both houses of Congress (see Mayhew essay – Divided We Govern).
The body that formally selects the president. Each state is allotted electoral votes equal to the number of its representatives and senators in Congress. It can decide how its electors are to be chosen and under what method they cast their votes for president. The candidate for the presidency who receives a majority of these votes wins. If no candidate obtains a majority, the House of Representatives chooses from the top three in electoral votes.
Federal agencies that are part of the executive branch but outside the structure of cabinet departments. Their heads typically serve at the pleasure of the president and can be removed at the president’s discretion.
Executive Office of the President
Executive agencies that report directly to the president and whose purpose is to perform staff services for the president. Top positions are filled by presidential nomination with Senate confirmation.
A claim by the president entitling him to withhold information from the courts or Congress. In U.S. v. Nixon 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that such a claim is valid when sensitive military or diplomatic matters are involved, but it refused to recognize an “absolute unqualified” presidential privilege of immunity especially in criminal cases.
A form of indictment voted on by the House of Representatives. It can be brought against the president, the vice president, and all “civil officers” of the federal government. To be removed from his or her position, the impeached officer must be convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
A traditional budgeting procedure by which the President of the United States once could prevent any agency of the Executive Branch from spending part or all of the money previously appropriated by Congress for their use. He would accomplish this, in essence, by an executive order that would forbid the Treasury to transfer the money in question to the agency’s account. (The Constitution provides that no money from the Treasury can be spent without a specific Congressional appropriation, but it is silent on the question of whether all money appropriated by Congress actually has to be spent.) All American presidents since John Adams asserted the right to impound appropriated funds, and presidents often used this as a way of making relatively small cuts in Federal spending on programs that they deemed unwise or unnecessary. In 1973-1974, however, President Nixon made unusually large-scale use of impoundment in his efforts to fight the unusually serious inflationary pressures of the time by trimming back the budget deficit. President Nixon impounded nearly $12 billion of Congressional appropriations, which represented something over 4% of the spending Congress had appropriated for the coming fiscal year.
Federal agencies that are part of the executive branch but outside the structure of cabinet departments. Their heads typically serve fixed terms of office and can be removed only for cause.
Powers not specified in the Constitution which the president claims. These powers are asserted by virtue of office.
A politician whose power has been diminished because he or she is about to leave office as a result of electoral defeat or statutory limitation.
A method by which Congress in a law allows either one or both houses to block a proposed executive action. It is frequently used for presidential reorganization plans of the executive branch. These vetoes were declared unconstitutional in INS v. CHADHA 1981.
A special form of veto in which the chief executive has the right to prevent particular provisions of a bill enacted by a legislative assembly from becoming law without having to kill all the other parts of the bill at the same time. Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton have all endorsed the idea of granting the President line-item veto powers over appropriations bills as a means of controlling the budget deficit problem, but the President of the United States has only recently acquired a very limited line-item veto power through certain changes in the rules of the House of Representatives and Senate. In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that even this limited form of line-item veto enacted by a simple Congressional majority was unconstitutional because it violates the concept of separation of powers.
Office of Management and Budget
Created as the Bureau of the Budget in 1921, the OMB was reorganized in 1970. It assembles and analyzes the national budget submitted to Congress by the president. Additional duties include studying the organization and operation of the executive branch, devising plans for reorganizing departments and agencies, developing ways of getting better information about government programs, and reviewing proposals that cabinet departments want included in the president’s legislative program.
One of two ways for a president to disapprove a bill sent to him by Congress. If the president does not sign the bill within ten days of receiving it, and Congress has adjourned within that time, the bill does not become law.
The charismatic power of a president which enables congressional candidates of the same party to ride into office on the strength of his popularity. This influence has declined in recent elections.
The head of government in a parliamentary system. Chosen by the legislature, this official selects the other ministers of government from among the members of parliament and remains in power as long as his or her party has a majority of seats in the legislature, as long as the assembled coalition holds together, or until the next scheduled election.
A method in which the president organizes his personal staff that has most assistants reporting through a hierarchy to a chief of staff.
Presidential recommendations to cut parts of appropriations bills; a 1996 law allows the president’s rescission to go into effect unless they are overridden by a two-thirds vote in Congress.
A form of government in which the people elect representatives to act on their behalf
A constitutional amendment ratified in 1967 which deals with presidential disability. It provides that the vice president is to serve as acting president whenever the president declares he is unable to discharge the duties of office or whenever the vice president and a majority of the cabinet declare the president incapacitated. If the president disagrees, a two-thirds vote of Congress is needed to confirm that the president is unable to execute his duties. The amendment also deals with a vacancy in the vice presidency by allowing the president to nominate a new vice president subject to confirmation by a majority vote of both houses.
A constitutional amendment ratified in 1951 which limits presidents to two terms of office.
A government in which the same party controls the presidency and both houses of Congress.
US v. Nixon (1974)
Held the president’s claim of executive privilege to preserve the confidentiality of his conversations with members of his staff or others does not justify withholding information bearing on a pending criminal trial (Watergate tapes).
veto / veto message
A statement the president sends to Congress accompanying a refusal to sign a bill passed by both houses. It indicates the president’s reasons for the veto. A two-thirds vote of both houses overrides the veto. In the United States, the President may veto a bill passed by majorities in both houses of Congress, preventing it from becoming law unless each house then re-passes the bill by a two-thirds majority.
War Powers Resolution
A United States Congress joint resolution providing that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or if the United States is already under attack or serious threat. The War Powers Resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.
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