Interacting with the Legislative Branch

Under Article II of the Constitution, the President is responsible for the execution and enforcement of the laws created by Congress.

New laws are first introduced as "bills" in the two bodies of Congress. A bill has to be approved by both the House and the Senate through a series of votes and debates. Once Congress has approved a bill, it is sent to the president, who heads the Executive Branch. The president has several options about what to do with a bill. He may sign it into law, send it back to Congress to be changed, or veto the bill, although Congress may override a veto with a two-thirds vote of both houses.

At the beginning of each session of Congress, the president must report on the State of the Union. In this important speech, the president gives his opinion of how the country is doing and presents his ideas about what needs to be done in the coming year. Presidents have traditionally given a State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress each January (except in inaugural years) outlining their agenda for the coming year.

The work of government moves along smoothly when the president and Congress cooperate. Otherwise, very little can be accomplished -- this is called "gridlock."