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Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify the power presidents have to effect change without congressional cooperation
  • Analyze how different circumstances influence the way presidents use unilateral authority
  • Explain how presidents persuade others in the political system to support their initiatives
  • Describe how historians and political scientists evaluate the effectiveness of a presidency

A president’s powers can be divided into two categories: direct actions the chief executive can take by employing the formal institutional powers of the office and informal powers of persuasion and negotiation essential to working with the legislative branch. When a president governs alone through direct action, it may break a policy deadlock or establish new grounds for action, but it may also spark opposition that might have been handled differently through negotiation and discussion. Moreover, such decisions are subject to court challenge, legislative reversal, or revocation by a successor. What may seem to be a sign of strength is often more properly understood as independent action undertaken in the wake of a failure to achieve a solution through the legislative process, or an admission that such an effort would prove futile. When it comes to national security, international negotiations, or war, the president has many more opportunities to act directly and in some cases must do so when circumstances require quick and decisive action.

Domestic policy

The president may not be able to appoint key members of his or her administration without Senate confirmation, but he or she can demand the resignation or removal of cabinet officers, high-ranking appointees (such as ambassadors), and members of the presidential staff. During Reconstruction, Congress tried to curtail the president’s removal power with the Tenure of Office Act (1867), which required Senate concurrence to remove presidential nominees who took office upon Senate confirmation. Andrew Johnson’s violation of that legislation provided the grounds for his impeachment in 1868. Subsequent presidents secured modifications of the legislation before the Supreme Court ruled in 1926 that the Senate had no right to impair the president’s removal power.

Myers v. United States , 272 U.S. 52 (1925).
In the case of Senate failure to approve presidential nominations, the president is empowered to issue recess appointments (made while the Senate is in recess) that continue in force until the end of the next session of the Senate (unless the Senate confirms the nominee).

The president also exercises the power of pardon without conditions. Once used fairly sparingly—apart from Andrew Johnson’s wholesale pardons of former Confederates during the Reconstruction period—the pardon power has become more visible in recent decades. President Harry S. Truman issued over two thousand pardons and commutations, more than any other post–World War II president.

“Bush Issues Pardons, but to a Relative Few,” New York Times , 22 December 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/22/washington/22pardon.html.
President Gerald Ford has the unenviable reputation of being the only president to pardon another president (his predecessor Richard Nixon, who resigned after the Watergate scandal) ( [link] ). While not as generous as Truman, President Jimmy Carter also issued a great number of pardons, including several for draft dodging during the Vietnam War. President Reagan was reluctant to use the pardon as much, as was President George H. W. Bush. President Clinton pardoned few people for much of his presidency, but did make several last-minute pardons, which led to some controversy. To date, Barack Obama has seldom used his power to pardon.
U.S. Department of Justice. “Clemency Statistics.” https://www.justice.gov/pardon/clemency-statistics (May 1, 2016).

Questions & Answers

Which of the following types of discrimination would be subject to the rational basis test?
Jessie Reply
what are the purpose of courts
ABUKAR Reply
Why does the devolution of power cause an increase in the number and types of interests?
Karen Reply
Bigger the governments or in devolution, number of governments, more people come to power, so more corruption.Federal system is also example of devolution, WHERE three lists are made, one handled solely by centre like Defence etc., other decided by provincial gov as edu., other example is Scotland.
Saleem
examples of countries with direct democracy?
Nicolas Reply
what is four main reason of government
Abubakarr Reply
how is the president in United States
Abubakarr
I m not staying in United states but I wish to go they
hasan
Which of the following is true of spending in politics
Ashley Reply
what is government
Michael Reply
is the system to govern a state or community
Gumersindo
what is government
Meyty
what 2 important issues went unresolved in the constitution?
Queenie Reply
the 1957 Ghana constitution
Ahorlu Reply
The framers of the Constitution designed the Senate to filter the output of the sometimes hasty House. Do you think this was a wise idea? Why or why not?
Emily Reply
what is freedom?
syed Reply
what is political eqaulity
syed
what is federalism?
Maria Reply
federalism Federalism is a system of government in which entities such as states or provinces share power with a national government. The United States government functions according to the principles of federalism.
deborah
panyaring means
Opata
meaning of panyaring
Opata
what is government
Opata
what is democracy
helen
Democracy is the government of the people by the praise people and for the people
Royal
What is the REPUBLIC ? How many states is federalism In ?
Jr
opata city government ? county government ? I or state government? FEDERAL government.?
Jr
DEMOCRACY democrats democratic democratics ? Easiest answer Blue red and white . red = REPUBLICANS not republic! Republican white is LIBERAL neither side left wing or right wing .
Jr
how is power dispered in American federalism?
Savannah Reply
how is power dispersed in American federalism?
Savannah
what three factors molds nations, state, relations today
Savannah
what three factors mold national,state relations today
Savannah
In which areas do you think peoples rights and liberties are at risk of government intrusion?
camille Reply
whenever......new government
Marjan Reply
clearly,who was meant to be in charge of this new government?
Marjan

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Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
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