President of the United States

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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The head of the EXECUTIVE BRANCH, one of the three branches of the federal government.

The U.S. Constitution sets relatively strict requirements about who may serve as president and for how long. Under Article II, only a natural-born citizen of the United States is eligible to serve as president; a person born outside the United States, even if he later becomes a citizen, may not serve. In addition, a person must be at least 35 years old to become president and must have resided in the United States for at least 14 years. Under the TWENTY-SECOND AMENDMENT, which was added to the Constitution in 1951, no person may serve as president for more than two four-year terms. The amendment further provides that a person who succeeds to the office for more than two years of an unexpired term (for example, because a sitting president dies or resigns) may serve for only one additional four-year term.

Article II also sets limits on the president's authority. The article provides that the president is the commander in chief of the ARMED SERVICES. As commander in chief, the president has the power to preserve the peace by governing a captured territory until Congress establishes civil authority over it; the president also may declare MARTIAL LAW, which provides for the imposition of military authority over civilians in the event of an invasion, insurrection, disaster, or similar occurrence. In addition, the president

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The official seal of the office of the president of the United States.

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can end a war through a treaty or a presidential proclamation. The power to declare war, however, is vested exclusively in Congress and not the president. In a situation of an undeclared war, under the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C.A. §§ 1541 et seq.) the president must consult with Congress before introducing armed forces into hostilities. Nevertheless, the practical effect of the statute is somewhat limited because it recognizes the power of the president to unilaterally deploy military forces when necessary.

As the head of the executive branch, the president executes the law but does not legislate, although he submits budgets and may propose bills to Congress. The president's legislative power is limited to approving or disapproving bills passed by Congress. If the president approves a measure, it becomes law. If he vetoes the bill, or refuses to approve it, it goes...

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