Presidency of the United States


12th Amendment

establishes that electors are to cast their electoral votes specifically for one individual as president and another as vice president

20th Amendment

sets the date of the inauguration of a new president as January 20 of the year following the election rather than March 4

22nd Amendment

limits a president to two terms in office

25th Amendment

establishes the order of presidential succession


group of close policy advisors to the president that includes the heads of the executive departments and other top officials, such as the national security advisor and head of national intelligence

Council of Economic Advisors

group that provides the president with objective advice on both domestic and international economic policy

electoral vote

votes cast by party electors from each state for president and vice president

executive agreement

agreement between the United States and a foreign government. It is less formal than a treaty and does not need to be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate.

executive order

directive issued by the president that carries much of the same force as law during the president's term

executive privilege

president's constitutionally implied right to keep executive branch communications private

faithless elector

presidential elector who does not vote for the candidate that elector is pledged to support

lame duck

officeholder in the final period of office after a successor has been elected

National Security Council (NSC)

body tasked with advising the president on national security matters and foreign policy

Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

agency that plays a key role in helping implement the president's agenda by developing a budget and carrying out related policy tasks


action by Congress to pass a bill over a president's veto, which requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers


action by a president that forgives a person convicted of a crime, removing or ending any punishment and blocking further prosecution of that person for that crime

pocket veto

action in which a president refuses to sign a bill during the 10-day signing period while Congress is in adjournment. The fact that Congress is adjourned means that it cannot vote to uphold or override the veto

popular vote

vote for a U.S. presidential candidate made by the qualified voters

president of the Senate

person who presides over the Senate

signing statement

written comment by the president at the time of signing a bill into law that explains the president's interpretation of the law, which may differ from the legislature's intent

swing state

state in which no political party dominates, where elections are competitive and either major presidential party candidate has a chance to win

unit rule

arrangement by which the candidate who wins the popular vote wins all the state's electoral votes


action by a president to reject legislation passed by Congress

War Powers Act

legislation that limits the president's power to send troops into hostile situations without Congressional approval

White House chief of staff

close aide to the president who oversees the Executive Office of the President