The Executive Branch - Reading Comprehension
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The Executive Branch Reading Comprehension
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The Executive Branch
By Phyllis Naegeli

1     The Constitution granted specific powers to the president to run our country. However, it did not detail the actual support departments that the president would need. With the words, "he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments" the Founding Fathers left the task of establishing the remainder of the executive branch to the newly formed government. In 1789, Congress created the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury. As the country grew, Congress and the president worked together to create more departments to handle the growing tasks of our government. Today, the executive branch includes the president, the vice president, the fifteen Cabinet departments, the White House Office, and many independent agencies and government corporations to implement the laws made by Congress.
2     Article II of the Constitution created the position of vice president; however, it did not clearly define the job. Only two tasks were granted to the vice president. The most important is to be ready to take over should the president become ill or die. The vice president is also president of the Senate. As important as that sounds, the powers of the job are rarely exercised. As president of the Senate, the vice president casts a deciding vote when there is a tie. As the years have passed, the job of vice president has taken on greater importance. Today, the person holding this office is a trusted advisor to the president, is on the National Security Council, is a part of the Cabinet, and attends to many ceremonial tasks the president is unable to perform.
3     The president appoints Cabinet department leaders and the Senate approves them. The leaders of the Cabinet departments are called secretaries with the exception of the Department of Justice whose leader is the Attorney General. Secretaries meet with the president on a regular basis to give advice and assist with policy-making decisions. However, it is rare to have the entire Cabinet together at one time. Whenever this happens, it is usually for ceremonial reasons.

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