(Revised 11 a.m., APRIL 22, 2004)





Three Branches Study Guide, Sections A through F with Answers


A. President (G 55)


The president of the United States is the head of the executive branch at the federal government level. There are many powers that the U.S Constitution delegates to the president.  But, there are many restrictions that are applied to him. For example, the president cannot make any laws since Congress creates the laws.



A1. What branch does the president belong to and at what level of government? executive branch,  

        federal level.                 

A2. Which document gives the president power? U.S Constitution.

A3. Which branch of the federal government creates federal laws in the United States? legislative branch.

A4. What is one word for the legislative branch at the federal level? Congress.


B. Options a president has after receiving a bill from Congress

 (G 54 center, G 277f, G 300-302 / chapter 11)


The president has the power to put laws into effect. The president has four options to handle a bill proposed by Congress. The president can sign the bill within 10 days and it will become law. If the president does not sign the bill in 10 days before Congress reaches the last 10 days of its session, the bill will automatically become law without the president’s signature.


The president can also veto a bill. To veto a bill the president must send it back to Congress. However, Congress can override a veto by 2/3 of the vote in the House of Representatives and 2/3 vote in the U.S. Senate.  When Congress votes to override a veto, the bill immediately becomes law without the president’s signature.


The last option a president has is the pocket veto. A bill is pocket vetoed if the president does not sign it within 10 days and Congress is within the last 10 days of its session. If that happens the bill dies. However, after a bill is dies, it may be proposed again in another session of Congress.



B1 .If the president does not want a bill proposed by Congress to become a law, what can he do? Return it to Congress.

B2 .How many days does the president have to respond to a bill? 10 days.

B3. What is a pocket veto? A pocket veto occurs if the president does nothing and Congress is within the last 10

       days of its session

B4. What fraction of the votes in Congress does it take to override a veto? 2/3 in the House and in the Senate.

B5. What may the president do if he or she wants a proposed bill to become law?  Sign it or let it become law without a


B6. May a bill be introduced again in the House of Representatives if it’s dead? Yes.

B8. If the president does not sign or veto a bill in 10 days before Congress reaches the last 10 days of its session what

       happens to the bill? The bill automatically becomes law without the president’s signature



C. Line-item Veto (G 302 m / chapter 11)


The line-item veto gives the president power to choose a portion of the bill and sign it into law. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled the line-item veto unconstitutional. The U.S Supreme Court stated that the president has to veto or sign the whole bill.



C1. What is a line-item veto? The power of a president to choose only a portion of a bill and sign it into law.

C2. Which court ruled the line-item veto unconstitutional? The U.S Supreme Court.

C3. Does the president have line-item veto power now? No it was ruled unconstitutional.

C4. What is the term for picking a certain portion of the bill to become law? The line- item veto. 


D. Impeachment (G pp.55-56 and 286 top / chapter 11) )


The president can face impeachment and removal from office if charged with serious misconduct. There are two presidents in the U.S history, who have been impeached. They are Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Only the House of Representatives has the power to impeach and only the U.S. Senate has the power to hold a trial of impeachment. The president will be removed from office if he is convicted with a 2/3 vote of the Senate. Once the president is removed from office, the vice president takes the position of the president. No president in the U.S. history has been convicted and removed.



D1. If the president commits a crime what can the House of Representatives do? The House of Representatives

       can impeach the president.

D2. If the House impeaches the president what does the Senate do? The Senate Conducts trial.

D3. What chamber of Congress is allowed to hold a trial of impeachment? The Senate chamber.

D4. Name the two presidents, who have faced impeachment? Andrew Johnson, and Bill Clinton.

D5. How many votes does the U.S. Senate need to remove the president from office? 2/3 vote of the Senate.

D6. If the president is removed, who will take his position? The vice president.

E. Terms of office for a president (G 53 end)


The president is elected for a 4-year term. A president may be elected twice only. If the president suffers serious injury and cannot serve or if he is impeached and removed from office, the vice president takes the place of the president and serves the remaining years. After serving the remaining years, the vice president can run for election as the incumbent. After Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected 4 times Congress passed a Constitutional amendment limiting the president’s tenure in office to two terms. When FDR died in office in 1945, vice president Harry Truman took his place and served the remaining years before running for election.



E1. How many years are there in a presidential term? 4.

E2. How many times can a president be elected? Twice.

E3. Who takes the place of the president if he is too ill to serve the country? The vice president.

E4. What is a person running for re-election called? The incumbent.

E5. What president served more than two terms in office? Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

E6. Who took office after Franklin Roosevelt died?  Harry Truman.



F. Branches that check the president (G 54, G 55f, 838)


         The United States Congress and the U.S Supreme Court check the president. Congress consists of 100 U.S Senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives. U.S. Senators serve a six-year term and can run for re-election as many times as they wish. The area that they serve is the whole state. U.S Representatives serve a term of two years and also have no term limit. The area that they serve is called a congressional district (C.D), which is a specific area within the state. California has the most CD’s, each served by one member of the House of Representatives



F1.What two branches check the president? The U.S congress, and the U.S Supreme Court.

F2.How many U.S. Senators are there in the U.S? 100.

F3.How many representatives are there in the U.S.? 435.

F4.How many years is a Senator’s term? 6 years.

F5.How many years is a Representative’s term? 2 years.

F6.What area does a Senator serve? The whole state.

F7.What area does a Representative serve? Congressional districts.

F8.What is the abbreviation for congressional district? C.D

F9.Is there a term limit for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives? No Term Limit.



Roles of the president (G 291-304 / chapter 11)


As a head of the executive branch at the federal level, the president has many roles. The five most important are:


G. Chief of State (G 292 top / chapter 11)

The Presidents duties as the Chief of State are to “entertain foreign dignitaries and prominent Americans”. His duty is to throw the first baseball of the season, to review parades, issue proclamations, and carry out other ceremonial duties.


H. Chief executive (G 292 center)

Ø      The president has the power to appoint and to remove. He can remove officials, who perform purely executive functions, but he cannot remove officials who perform quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial functions, Congress protects those from presidential discharge.

Ø      The president also has the power to pardon. This power is one of the few that congress can not limit. The president may use this power when he sees mistaken convictions or to “restore the tranquility of the common wealth”.

Ø      Executive privilege is another power of the president. This power allows the president to withhold information from the legislative branch. This act, of course, being justified by the need for secrecy in foreign affairs or by the necessity of keeping advice confidential. The court case of United States v. Nixon, (1974), Nixon claimed executive privilege, and thus was excuse from bringing in the Watergate tapes for further investigation. The Supreme Court ruled that the president is not above the law, and that executive privilege does not apply to cases where crime may have been committed.


J. Commander in chief of the armed forces (G 290-291, 296-299 / chapter 11)

The role of Commander in chief consists of having “the supreme command and direction [of] the military and naval forces”. This power does not allow the president of the U.S to declare war.  However, the Constitution allows the president to

make war  using his (or her) powers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.


The first President Bush (R) used these powers in 1989 to invade Panama and two years later to make war on Iraq when it invaded Kuwait (G pages 291center and 299 top and center / chapter 11)  Earlier, Presidents L.B. Johnson (D) and Nixon (R) had made war against Vietnam Laos and Cambodia in Southeast Asia which became unpopular by the time Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal (G pp 290 center and. 298 center / chapter 11).


The last war declared by Congress was World War II when F. D. Roosevelt (D) was often regarded as the “savior” of the country, just as Lincoln (R) had been at the time he issued the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War that ended in 1865 (G pages 288 end -290 center / chapter 11)



K. Chief diplomat (G 294)


Ø      Sign treaties: the Senate must ratify (approve) them by two-thirds vote before they go into effect..

      (G pp. 294 end -295 top / chapter 11)


Ø      Executive agreements: Agreements with other nations made by the president without the Senate’s consent. They have all the legal force of treaty, but unlike treaties, are not binding on succeeding presidents. (G p. 295 center / chapter 11)


Ø      Congressional- executive agreements: an agreement with a foreign nation negotiated by the president and the submitted to both houses of Congress for approval by majority vote, for example NAFTA by Clinton. (G pp. 291 center and

Ø      295 end - 296 top / chapter 11)


Ø      Power of recognition: the simple act of receiving a foreign diplomat signifies the official recognition of the sponsoring government.


Ø      Diplomatic appointments: the power of the president to appoint ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls, with the consent of the Senate (G p 296 center / chapter 11).



L. Chief legislator of the United States (G 299-304)

The president has the right to recommend legislation and to veto a bill passed by Congress.


Ø      Pocket veto:  a decision by the president not to sign a bill during the last ten days of a term, effectively killing the bill.

      (G p.301 / chapter 11)


Ø      Line item veto:  the power to reject portions of a bill while signing the rest. While President Clinton served in office, the Supreme Court ruled the line-item veto unconstitutional. (G p. 302 / chapter 11)


Ø      Rider:  provisions the president may oppose but that Congress attaches to bills the president favors.  (See backscratching, and logrolling)  Recent presidents wanted the line-item veto power to be able to eliminate porkbarrel legislation resulting from the use of riders. (G p. 302 top / chapter 11) 



L1. Who serves as Chief of State? The president.

L2. Does the president serve as Chief executive?  The president.

L3. Who serves as commander in Chief of armed forces? The president.

L4. Does the president serve as Chief diplomat? Yes.                                     

L5. Who serves as Chief legislator of the United States? The president.


M. Powers delegated to the president (G 55, G 292-302 / chapter 11)

The president has the power to veto, to appoint justices, judges, and cabinet members (305-306 top / chapter 11),

and to pardon people convicted of crimes. (G p. 302 / chapter 11)



M1. Who has the power to veto?  President.

M2. Who can appoint judges and justices?  President.



Foreign Policy: Stapled Pages / 826-829


Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) (D) (G p. 428)


Ø      WWI (Central Powers vs. Allied Powers)

Ø      1917: U.S. enters WWI on the side of the allies; war soon ended.

Ø      League of Nations.


Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) (D) (G pp. 290 top / chapter11 and 428)


Ø      1945: WWII Axis Allies ends.

Ø      Germany withdrew from the League of Nations and Hitler took over Austria.

Ø      War started after. Japan, Germany, and Italy signed the Tripartite Treaty creating the Tokyo-Berlin-Rome Axis.

Ø      Allies: The United States, France, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union.


Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) (D)(G p. 428)


Ø      Drooped atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Ø      United Nation formed.  (G p. 428,445)

Ø      Korean War: The war between North and South Korea, Truman immediately called for the United Nations to mandate an expulsion of North Korea from South Korea. Such a purpose was called containment (prevention of expansion of communism). The Soviets responded by creating the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to guard the countries were Soviet armies were present.  (G p. 297-298, 429,430,451)

Ø      Truman Doctrine, a policy that would enable the U.S to provide any nation that was to fight communism with foreign aid. Purpose of Truman Doctrine was containment.

Ø      Beginning of the Cold War. (G p. 294)

Ø      Truman signed the treaty establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) between the U.S and West European nations ( G pp. 430, 435)


John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) (D)


Ø      Bay of Pigs invasion leads to the Cuban missile crisis.( G p.450)

Ø      Berlin Wall constructed; symbolizes cold war; East Bloc.

Ø      Cuban missile crisis: Soviet leader, Khrushchev, loaded Cuba with missiles Kennedy demanded removal, threatening force if necessary; Kennedy took the U.S to the verge of War. (G p. 429)


Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) (D)


Ø      Gulf of Tonkin Resolution leads to escalation of the U.S. role in theVietnam War. in Southeast Asia.  This resolution declared self-defense and control of aggression by Communist North. Vietnam to be the purpose of U.S. intervention.

     (G pp 290 and. 298 / chapter 11)


Richard Nixon (1969-1974) (R)


Ø      First further escalation, then the beginning of withdrawal from Vietnam. (G pp 290 and. 298 / chapter 11)

Ø       Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty SALT Treaty.

Ø      Nixon’s agreement to support China’s admission to the UN developed economic and cultural exchanges with China. This change in relations opened negotiation with Vietnam for the withdrawal of the U.S.


Gerald Ford (1974-1977) (R)


Ø      Cambodia captures the Mayaguez.  President Ford ordered an attack to rescue the ship and its crew.


James Earl Carter (1977-1981) (D)


Ø      U.S and Soviet Union signed the SALT II Treaty .

Ø      Camp David Accords. President Carter called for Israel and Egypt to negotiate an end to their wars. The three nations met at Camp David.

Ø      Iran-Hostage Crisis: Militant Iranians seized the American Embassy in Tehran and took more than sixty Americans hostage.


Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) (R)


Ø      Strategic Defense Initiative SDI Started (Star Wars), a computer controlled system capable of destroying enemy missiles in outer space.

Ø      Strategic Arms Reduction Talks START signed; later Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to eliminate short and medium-range nuclear missiles.

Ø      Iran-Contra Affair. Iran and Iraq fought against each other.   The Reagan administration sold arms to Iran and then secretly gave the money to the Contras  fighting against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.


George Bush (the elder) (1989-1992) (R)


Ø      U.S. invades Panama to arrest its leader, Manuel Noriega in 1989, the same year the fall of the Berlin Wall signifies the end of the Cold War

Ø      Gulf War fought against Iraq when it invaded Kuwait (G pages 291center and 299 top and center / chapter 11)

Ø      Aid sent to Somalia where internal division, famine and disease controlled the country.

Ø      Baltic States gain independence from the former USSR.


William Clinton (1992-2001) (D)


Ø      Additional troops sent to Somalia, then withdrawn.

Ø      Break up of Yugoslavia.

Ø      NAFTA created to promote trade among the U.S., Mexico and Canada (G pp. 291 center and

      295 end - 296 top / chapter 11)


George Bush (the younger) (2001-present) (R)


Ø      September 11, 2001 terrorist attack leads to war in Afghanistan

Ø      War on terrorism continues in Iraq