What Does the Executive Branch Do?

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The executive branch of the United States, headed by the president, has the primary duty of administering and implementing federal laws. In addition to the president, who acts as commander in chief, the Vice president also has a prominent role in directing the activities of the executive branch. This branch includes numerous federal agencies that enforce laws and regulations in different areas, including finances, the environment and security.

The executive branch consists of numerous departments and agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security Administration and Securities and Exchange Commission. These groups have separate but equally important tasks. The departments and agencies within the executive branch have appointed leaders, and consist of members who carry out administrative and operational tasks. The different agencies, along with the president, enforce rules and regulations implemented by Congress. While the individual departments have limited and specific roles, the president has broader responsibilities. As directed by Congress, the president has the powers to declare war and engage the U.S. in military action. In addition to the 15 federal agencies, the president oversees the actions of approximately 50 independent commissions. These commissions include the Federal Reserve Board as well as individuals such as judges and federal officers.