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Executive Branch Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

There are three branches of the federal government in the United States and the executive branch is one of them. Come learn about the executive branch, who is in charge of it, and some other neat facts about this branch of government.

What is the Executive Branch?

The executive branch of the U.S. government is the part of the federal government that is made up of the president, vice president, and the Cabinet. The executive branch's main responsibility is applying and enforcing the laws passed by Congress, which is the legislative branch of the U.S. government.

Separation of Powers

Imagine being on the playground with your friends. You decide that everyone should play kickball, but they want to play soccer. Since you have all the game balls, you have the power, like a king.

The authors of the Constitution broke the federal government into three branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Each has different powers so that no one person or group has too much control, like a king has.

Article II of the Constitution explains exactly what the executive branch can do, what powers it has, and who is part of it. We'll go through each of the three parts of the executive branch: the president, the vice president, and the Cabinet.

The President

The president lives in the White House, is head of the federal government, and leads the U.S. military.

The White House
The White House

But not just anyone can be president. To get the job, you must be a U.S. citizen born in the United States, at least 35 years old, and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.

Presidents are elected to four-year terms. The Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution did this to keep one person from staying in office permanently, like a king. But they didn't say how many terms a President could serve. The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was added in 1951, stopping any one president from serving more than two four-year terms consecutively, which means one after another.

Some of the president's powers include:

  • Signing legislation passed by Congress into law, or vetoing it to keep it from becoming a law
  • Enforcing laws
  • Granting pardons
  • Making treaties, or agreements, with other countries with Congress' approval
  • Leading the military as Commander-in-Chief
  • Choosing the vice president
  • Nominating ambassadors that serve in other countries and Supreme Court justices that Congress must approve
  • Appointing Cabinet members that the Senate must approve

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