Vice President of the United States

Vice President of the United States
Seal of the Vice President of the United States.svg
Flag of the Vice President of the United States.svg
Mike Pence official portrait (cropped).jpg
Incumbent
Mike Pence

since January 20, 2017
United States Senate
Executive branch of the U.S. government
Office of the Vice President
StyleMr. Vice President
(informal)
The Honorable
(formal)
Mr. President
(as President of the Senate)
His Excellency
(international correspondence)
StatusSecond-highest executive branch officer
President of the Senate
Member ofCabinet
National Security Council
National Space Council (Chairman)
United States Senate (President)
ResidenceNumber One Observatory Circle
SeatWashington, D.C.
NominatorPresident of the United States, Political parties
AppointerElectoral College of the United States
Term length4 years, no term limit
Constituting instrumentUnited States Constitution
FormationMarch 4, 1789
(229 years ago)
 (1789-03-04)[1][2]
First holderJohn Adams
April 21, 1789[3]
SuccessionFirst[4]
DeputyPresident pro tempore of the United States Senate (in the Senate)
Salarywww.whitehouse.gov

The Vice President of the United States (informally referred to as VPOTUS, VP, or Veep) is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the President of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as President of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president presides over Senate deliberations (or delegates this task to a member of the Senate), but may only vote to break a tie. The vice president also presides over joint sessions of Congress.[5]

The vice president is indirectly elected together with the president to a four-year term of office by the people of the United States through the Electoral College.[5] Section 2 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, ratified in 1967, created a mechanism for intra-term vice presidential succession, establishing that vice presidential vacancies will be filled by the president and confirmed by both houses of Congress. Previously, whenever a vice president had succeeded to the presidency or had died or resigned from office, the vice presidency remained vacant until the next presidential and vice presidential terms began.[4]

The vice president is also a statutory member of the National Security Council, and the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.[5] The Office of the Vice President assists and organizes the vice president's official functions. The role of the vice presidency has changed dramatically since the office was created during the 1787 constitutional Convention. Especially over the past 100 years, the vice presidency has evolved into a position of domestic and foreign policy political power, and is now widely seen as an integral part of a president's administration. As the vice president's role within the executive branch has expanded, his role within the legislative branch has contracted; for example, he presides over the Senate only infrequently.[6]

The Constitution does not expressly assign the vice presidency to any one branch, causing a dispute among scholars about which branch of government the office belongs to: 1) the executive branch; 2) the legislative branch; 3) both; or 4) neither.[6][7] The modern view of the vice president as an officer of the executive branch (isolated almost totally from the legislative branch) is due in large part to the assignment of executive authority to the vice president by either the president or Congress.[6][8]

Mike Pence of Indiana is the 48th and current vice president. He assumed office on January 20, 2017.[9]

Origin

No mention of an office of vice president was made at the 1787 Constitutional Convention until near the end, when an 11-member committee on "Leftover Business" proposed a method of electing the chief executive (president).[10] Delegates had previously considered the selection of the Senate's presiding officer, deciding that, "The Senate shall choose its own President," and had agreed that this official would be designated the executive's immediate successor. They had also considered the mode of election of the executive but had not reached consensus. This all changed on September 4, when the committee recommended that the nation's chief executive be elected by an Electoral College, with each state having a number of presidential electors equal to the sum of that state's allocation of representatives and senators.[6][11]

The proposed presidential election process called for each state to choose members of the electoral college, who would use their discretion to select the candidates they individually viewed as best qualified.[12] Recognizing that loyalty to one's individual state outweighed loyalty to the new federation, the Constitution's framers assumed that individual electors would be inclined to choose a candidate from their own state (a so-called "favorite son" candidate) over one from another. So they created the office of vice president and required that electors vote for two candidates, requiring that at least one of their votes must be for a candidate from outside the elector's state, believing that this second vote could be cast for a candidate of national character.[11][13] Additionally, to guard against the possibility that some electors might strategically throw away their second vote in order to bolster their favorite son's chance of winning, it was specified that the first runner-up presidential candidate would become vice president. Creating this new office imposed a political cost on strategically discarded electoral votes, incentivizing electors to make their choices for president without resort to electoral gamesmanship and to cast their second ballot accordingly.[11]

The resultant method of electing the president and vice president, spelled out in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, allocated to each state a number of electors equal to the combined total of its Senate and House of Representatives membership. Each elector was allowed to vote for two people for president (rather than for both president and vice president), but could not differentiate between their first and second choice for the presidency. The person receiving the greatest number of votes (provided that it was an absolute majority of the whole number of electors) would be president, while the individual who received the next largest number of votes became vice president. If there were a tie for first or for second place, or if no one won a majority of votes, the president and vice president would be selected by means of contingent elections protocols stated in the clause.[14][15]

The emergence of political parties and nationally coordinated election campaigns during the 1790s (which the Constitution's framers had not contemplated) soon frustrated this original plan. In the election of 1796, Federalist John Adams won the presidency, but his bitter rival, Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson came second and became vice president. Thus, the president and vice president were from opposing parties; and Jefferson used the vice presidency to frustrate the president's policies. Then, four years later, in the election of 1800, Jefferson, and fellow Democratic-Republican Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes. In the contingent election that followed, Jefferson finally won on the 36th ballot, and Burr became vice president. Afterward, the system was overhauled through the Twelfth Amendment in time to be used in the 1804 election.[16]

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: ABŞ vitse-prezidenti
norsk nynorsk: Visepresident i USA
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Potpredsjednik Sjedinjenih Država