The presidency of the United States was not meant to be a very powerful position. The people who wrote the Constitution were rather worried about autocratic rule. For this reason, they made a presidency that did not have a lot of enumerated powers. They gave Congress its powers in Article I, showing that it was meant to be more important and more powerful than the President. The President’s enumerated powers include:
- The power to veto bills that Congress passes. Of course, this can be overridden if both Houses of Congress vote to do so by a large enough margin.
- The executive power. This is not really defined clearly, but the President has the power to execute the laws that Congress passes.
- Power to be the Commander in Chief of the armed forces.
- Power to require written reports from the main officials in the executive departments.
- Power to pardon people.
- Make treaties, nominate ambassadors, judges, and people like cabinet secretaries. However, this is only with the advice and consent of the Senate.
- Can recommend measures to Congress
- Can convene one or both houses of Congress and can adjourn them if they cannot agree on when to do so.
Clearly, this is not a very imposing set of powers. The Framers did not intend for the President to be the powerful figure that he (or someday she) is today.