In season three of "House of Cards," President Underwood plans to run for president in the upcoming election without any party support. He also wants to implement a jobs program that guarantees a job to every American who wants to work.
The problem is that Underwood wants to fund this program by cutting entitlements, but he cannot push his plan through Congress. The president decides to bypass Congress by using FEMA funds to try the program out in Washington, D.C. in hopes that its success may force other states to follow suit. The plan seems to be working in Frank's favor until a Katrina-sized storm threatens to hit. Frank is forced to make the decision as to whether to end the program and release FEMA funds or continue the successful program in Washington but risk the natural disaster striking without the means to assist adequately. Frank chooses to end the program, which turns out to be the wrong decision because the storm does not hit.
Doug recovers from his season two scrape with Rachel. Initially, it appears that he has turned on the Underwoods, but he remains loyal to Frank. Claire attempts to get appointed as the United Nations ambassador to Russia, but she is not confirmed because she gets flustered at the Congressional hearing. Frank appoints Claire as acting U.N. Ambassador to Russia, but a series of blunders causes Frank to doubt his decision. Frank and Claire are distant from each other throughout season three. Claire is unsatisfied with playing second fiddle. There are times when it seems that they may reconcile, but the season ends with Claire's absence at the Iowa caucuses, which Frank wins, followed by her declaring that she is leaving Frank.