Executive Branch Practice Test

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  1. What is amnesty? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "amnesty" that will help answer this question.
  2. What is a pardon? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "pardons" that will help answer this question.
  3. How is it possible for a Presidential candidate to win the popular vote but still lose the election? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "electoral college" that will help answer this question.
  4. What role does the President play in the American economic system? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "this subject" that will help answer this question.
  5. What executive powers does the President have according to the Constitution? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "executive powers" that will help answer this question.
  6. What military and diplomatic powers does the President have according to the Constitution? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "military and diplomatic powers" that will help answer this question. 
  7. What legislative and judicial powers does the President have according to the Constitution? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "legislative and judicial powers" that will help answer this question.
  8. What is the War Powers Resolution of 1973? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "War Powers Resolution of 1973" that will help answer this question.
  9. What power does the President have in regards to waging war? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "war powers" that will help answer this question.
  10. Who is the current President of the United States? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "the President" that will help answer this question.
  11. Who is the current Secretary of State? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "executive branch leaders" that will help answer this question.
  12. Where does the President get his/her power? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "Presidential power" that will help answer this question.
  13. Who is the current Vice President of the United States?  If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "executive branch leaders" that will help answer this question.
  14. Who is the current Secretary of Education? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "executive branch leaders" that will help answer this question.
  15. Who is the current National Security Advisor? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "executive branch leaders" that will help answer this question.
  16. Who is the current Homeland Security Secretary? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "executive branch leaders" that will help answer this question.
  17. How does the electoral college select the President? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "the electoral college" that will help answer this question.
  18. Who is the current Attorney General? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "executive branch leaders" that will help answer this question.
  19. Who is the current Secretary of Defense? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "executive branch leaders" that will help answer this question.
  20. How does the executive branch promote/restrict contemporary issues? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "contemporary issues" that will help answer this question.
  21. How does the executive branch relate to the other two branches? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "this subject" that will help answer this question.
  22. What is the Cabinet? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "the cabinet" that will help answer this question.
  23. How does the President influence foreign policy? If you need help with this question, go to the unit section on "this subject" that will help answer this question.

1. What is amnesty?

 

To grant amnesty means to give a general pardon to a group of law violators.

The President has the power to grant pardons and reprieves, except in the case of impeachment. The President also has the power to commute a sentence or to grant amnesty.

 

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2. What is a pardon?

 

A pardon is a legal forgiveness of a crime.

The President has the power to grant pardons and reprieves, except in the case of impeachment. The President also has the power to commute a sentence or to grant amnesty.

 

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3. How is it possible for a Presidential candidate to win the popular vote but still lose the election?

The margin of victory in a state doesn't change the number of electoral votes given to a candidate. So, if a candidate wins State X by 70% to 30% margin of victory they get 25 electoral votes. But, if a candidate wins State X by a 51% to 49% margin of victory they still only receive 25 electoral votes.

So, what happens is that Candidate 1 might win several states by a huge margin and Candidate 2 might win several states by a small margin. When popular votes are counted Candidate 1 might have a small majority of votes. But, when electoral votes are added up Candidate 2 has a majority of electoral votes because they won more states (or more large states), just by a small margin of victory. The huge margin of victory made by Candidate 1 might have given them more popular votes but it didn't increase their electoral vote count.

The electoral college is the process used to select the President.

When people vote for President they are actually voting for an elector, or a representative. The number of electors in each state is based on the number of representatives that state has in Congress. So, whatever candidate receives the majority of the popular vote (individual votes cast) in a state receives all of that state's electoral votes.

This system was designed so that smaller states still had a good say in the outcome of the election. One of the chief complaints of the electoral college is that it is possible (and has happened) that a candidate might win the popular vote (overall individual votes) and lose the election.

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4. What role does the President play in the American economic system?

 

The executive branch plays a key role in the American economic system. Although it shares power with Congress, the executive branch has power over two key things: taxes and government spending.

The President can propose tax cuts or increases. Any time a tax cut or increase is proposed it must be voted on by Congress and then passed to the President. If the President doesn't like it, he/she can veto the bill.

Tax cuts and increases have an impact on the American economic system because they have an effect on the amount of money the American people have to spend. If the country is in a recession, a tax cut will give people more money to spend, thereby helping the economy grow.

The President/executive branch also has an effect on government spending. The President submits a national budget to Congress and signs the budget into law. The national budget determines how much money is going to be spent each year in a wide variety of areas that can have a profound impact on peoples' lives.

If the country is in a recession, the executive branch might try to increase government spending to promote jobs and help the American people out. They might directly help people by increasing welfare like unemployment payments. If more Americans have jobs or people are receiving greater welfare assistance then they have more money to spend in the economy, thereby helping to fuel a recovery.

 

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5. What executive powers does the President have according to the Constitution?

 

Executing the Law

The President has the power and responsibility to make sure that laws are being carried out. How laws are carried out is largely determined from within the agencies that are part of the executive office, such as Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Department of Justice. The President appoints the leaders of those offices and can influence their actions.

The Ordinance Power

The ordinance power is the power to issue executive orders. An executive order is a directive, rule, or regulation that has the effect of law.

The Appointing Power

 The President has the power to name many of the top-ranking officers in the federal government. The President appoints ambassadors, cabinet members, federal judges, Supreme Court justices, federal marshals, officers in the armed forces, head of independent agencies such as NASA, and more. When the President makes appointments, the Senate must first confirm or vote on the appointment to approve it.

The Removal Power

The President has the power to remove any officer appointed by the President, except for federal judges. This power enables the executive branch to remove officers who are not doing their jobs effectively and to ensure that the laws are being executed.

 

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6. What military and diplomatic powers does the President have according to the Constitution?

 

The Power to Make Treaties

The President has the power to make treaties with other nations. Often these treaties are worked out through the Secretary of State. These treaties must be approved by a 2/3 vote in the Senate.

Executive Agreements

These are agreements made between the President and the heads of other countries. Unlike treaties, they do not require Senate approval although they usually follow a previous treaty that the Senate has agreed upon or previous legislation passed by Congress.

The Power of Recognition

The President has the power to diplomatically recognize the legitimacy or legality of governments in other countries. Recognizing a government can help it survive and refusing to recognize it can hinder its success.

A Dominant Role in Military Affairs

The President is the commander in chief of the armed forces, or the head of all the armed forces, such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

The President has the final say in all military matters, although a lot of the decision making is delegated to military subordinates.

The President has the ability to use military forces for combat in foreign areas without a Congressional declaration of war. The War Powers Act (also see legislative branch section on topic) enables Congress to limit the President's power but the Constitution still leaves the President a lot of power.

During wartime, the President's powers are much greater and can include the power to order rationing of food and materials, control wages and prices, and seize and operate certain private industries.

 

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7. What legislative and judicial powers does the President have according to the Constitution?

 

Legislative Powers

Power to Recommend Legislation

The President gives three messages to Congress each year: the State of the Union message, the President's budget message, and the annual Economic Report.

Furthermore, throughout the year the President will send messages to Congress on a wide variety of topics and encourage the passing of legislation to meet the needs of the country.

The Veto Power

Every bill that passes through both houses of Congress must then be sent to the President. The President has the power to sign the bill into law or to veto the bill. To veto a bill means to strike it down or not allow it to become law. If the President vetoes a bill Congress can override the veto with a 2/3 majority in the two houses. (Also see checks and balances worksheet)

For a short time, 1996-1998, the President was given the power to a line item veto. This gave the President to veto individual parts of spending bills but still approve the rest. This power no longer exists because the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional.

Judicial Powers

The President has the power to grant pardons and reprieves, except in the case of impeachment. The President also has the power to commute a sentence or to grant amnesty.

A pardon is a legal forgiveness of a crime.

A reprieve is the postponement of the execution of a sentence.

To commute a sentence means to reduce the length of sentence or the fine imposed.

To grant amnesty means to give a general pardon to a group of law violators.

 

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8. What is the War Powers Resolution of 1973?

 

The War Powers Resolution contains the following central provisions:

1. Within 48 hours after committing American forces to combat abroad, the President must report to Congress, detailing the circumstances and the scope of his actions.

2. That combat commitment must end within 60 days, unless Congress authorizes a longer period. That 60-day deadline may be extended for as much as 30 days, however, to allow for the safe withdrawal of the American forces involved.

3. Congress may bring an end to the combat commitment at any time, by passing a concurrent resolution to that effect.

 

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9. What power does the President have in regards to waging war?

 

The President is the commander in chief of the armed forces, or the head of all the armed forces, such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

The President has the final say in all military matters, although a lot of the decision making is delegated to military subordinates.

The President has the ability to use military forces for combat in foreign areas without a Congressional declaration of war. The War Powers Act (also see legislative branch section on topic) enables Congress to limit the President's power but the Constitution still leaves the President a lot of power.

During wartime, the President's powers are much greater and can include the power to order rationing of food and materials, control wages and prices, and seize and operate certain private industries.

 

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10. Who is the current President of the United States?

 

George W. Bush

 

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11. Who is the current Secretary of State?

 

Colin Powell

 

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12. Where does the President get his/her power?

 

Plain and simple, the Constitution. The Constitution gives power to the President. Additionally, it can also be said that the people give the President power through the electoral process.

 

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13. Who is the current Vice President of the United States?

 

Dick Cheney

 

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14. Who is the current Secretary of Education?

 

Rod Paige

 

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15. Who is the current National Security Advisor?

 

Condoleeza Rice

 

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16. Who is the current Homeland Security Secretary?

 

Tom Ridge

 

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17. How does the electoral college select the President?

 

The electoral college is the process used to select the President.

When people vote for President they are actually voting for an elector, or a representative. The number of electors in each state is based on the number of representatives that state has in Congress. So, whatever candidate receives the majority of the popular vote (individual votes cast) in a state receives all of that state's electoral votes.

This system was designed so that smaller states still had a good say in the outcome of the election. One of the chief complaints of the electoral college is that it is possible (and has happened) that a candidate might win the popular vote (overall individual votes) and lose the election.

 

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18. When is the current Attorney General?

 

John Ashcroft

 

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19. Who is the current Secretary of Defense?

 

Donald Rumsfeld

 

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20. How does the executive branch promote/restrict contemporary issues?

 

The executive branch has many tools that it can use to have an effect on contemporary issues. The President can take action or the various independent agencies can do things to promote or restrict different issues.

First, the President has the power to appoint numerous federal officials. Naturally, the President is going to choose allies or individuals who share his/her viewpoint.

Second, the President can recommend legislation that promotes or restrict issues. The President can also sign bills into law or veto bills.

Third, the executive branch has a huge amount of control over government spending. By dictating where and how federal money is spent can have a huge role in influencing issues.

 

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21. How does the executive branch relate to the other two branches?

 

In our country, there are three branches of government, each with its own authority:

Legislative - Congress

Executive - the President

Judicial - the Courts

These three branches are not entirely separated nor completely independent of one another.

Rather, they are tied together, or relate to each other, by a complex system of checks and balances.

Study the checks and balances chart provided by the instructor.

 

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22. What is the Cabinet ?

 

The cabinet is a body of officials selected by the President that advise on a variety of different subjects. Unlike most of our governmental institutions, the Cabinet was not created by the Constitution. Instead, the cabinet was created by our first President, George Washington, and the tradition was carried on by successive presidents.

The cabinet is made up of heads of 15 executive departments that have been created by Congress. The President appoints individuals to those positions and the Senate approves them.

Cabinet members have two important responsibilities: Serving as the leader of their department and advising the President. The President heavily relies on these department heads when making national policy decisions.

 

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23. How does the President influence foreign policy?

 

The President plays a huge role in the development of foreign policy. Basically, the President determines our country's foreign policy, or the way that we treat other countries and the actions we take against other countries. However, many of the actions that the President can take must be approved by Congress.

The President has the power to make treaties with other nations, with approval of the Senate. The President also has the power to make agreements, called executive agreements, with the leaders of other countries. The President also has the power to recognize other countries as being legitimate and legal. Additionally, the President can use military force against other nations within reason and has the final say in how the military is used and how war is waged. (See page on this section)

 

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23. Attorney General?

 

The Department of Justice is the nation's largest law firm and is influential in how the law is carried out in the United States. The Department gives legal advice to the President and other executive departments, represents the United States in court, and is responsible for enforcing the law in our country. The Attorney General serves as the head of this department and can make powerful recommendations and decisions on how the law will be enforced in the United States. For example, after 9/11 the role of the Attorney General came into the spotlight as John Ashcroft recommended great changes in how much power the government has to prevent criminal acts and prosecuting criminals. This change in governmental prosecutorial power (part of your "Individual Civil Liberties vs. War on Terrorism" issue) has a great impact on civil liberties in our country.

 

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Author Michael Schneiter.
Copyright 2002  [Michael Schneiter at Bridges High School]. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 18, 2003 .