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In addition to leading the executive branch, the president is the head of state and commander in chief of the military. The president's duties include negotiating international treaties, signing or vetoing bills, appointing members of the Cabinet, judiciary and ambassadors and issuing pardons for federal offences. Thanks to its superpower status the US president is often cited as the most powerful person on Earth. But while the office does have significant authority it is limited by the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution. However the power of the press and the importance of foreign policy has enormously boosted the authority of the president in recent times.

How the legislature can check the president:

  • Can refuse to pass a bill the president wants or to approve presidential appointments
  • Must approve budget, declarations of war and treaties
  • Can override presidential vetoes and use impeachment powers to remove the president from office
  • Chooses the winner of a presidential or vice-presidential election when no candidate has a majority of electoral college votes
  • President must periodically report to Congress by delivering a State of the Union address

How the judiciary can check the president:

  • Can declare executive orders unconstitutional
  • Chief justice sits as president of the Senate during presidential impeachment trials

President Obama
Barack Obama, the current US president


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