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What is the job of the US Vice President?

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March 10, 2013 12:25AM

The Vice President of the United States has only four official duties:

(1) He presides over the Senate - formally, he sits in Senate and acts as the officer-in-charge, by which he does the usual management of administering a parliamentary-based body. He does NOT have powers to vote (see below for an exception), introduce or modify legislation, or have any power than to act as the moderator/referee.

(2) In the special case of a tie vote in the Senate, the VP is permitted to break the tie by casing the deciding vote.

(3) When the Electoral College officially meets after a Presidential election, the current Vice President sits as the presiding official. Officially, he watches to make sure the voting is done and counted properly, then acts as the official reciever and verifier of the vote.

(4) Be ready to step in and act as President, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, should the President be disabled, die, or be removed. This means the V.P. receives constant updates from the various National Security advisory bodies, and generally is the person immediately after the President who is informed of any significant event or development.

In modern times, the V.P. very seldom acts as in (1) - normally, this duty is passed to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. (2) is infrequent also, but generally does happen at least once in each V.P.'s term in office. (3) happens only once per term, after the general Presidential election. (4) actually happens relatively often - most presidents in the past 50 years have had at least one time during their term(s) that they temporarily assigned power to the V.P., and there are three instances of the V.P. permanently taking power (i.e. becoming the actual President) in the last 100 years.

Unofficially, the modern V.P. has several additional duties, which now occupy virtually all his time:

(1) Act as a legislative liason between the President and members of Congress. In this role, the V.P. generally acts as the President's "point man" for Congress, working up in Congress to gather votes and run strategies to pass the President's agenda.

(2) Be a "stand in" for the President in places where a formal head-of-state's presence is required, but the President himself is otherwise unavailable (or, it would be politically unwise for the President to personally attend). This can range from attending funerals or corinations, being a "special envoy" at diplomatic or trade discussions, or for delivering special communications to delicate political negotiations.

(3) Be the informal head-of-party for the political party which the President and V.P. belong. Generally, the President is extremely busy running the country, so the V.P. is often delegated the task of fundraising and political campaigning.

(4) Act as a key advisor to the President on all issues. This varies widely, and is often a function of the personal history between the V.P. and President - some Presidents have very close relationships with their V.P.'s (e.g. G.W.Bush and Cheny, or Clinton and Gore), while others have little or no real interaction (e.g. Nixon/Ford or H.W.Bush/Quayle ).

The informal powers of the V.P. are completely flexible, and are decided upon by the President and V.P. themselves; that is, they define the role of the V.P. based on a variety of factors, from the current geo-political state, to the inherent talents and disadvantages of both the President and V.P., and the level of familiarity and comfor the pair share.
politician (someone engaged in politics, especially as an elected representative)