Vice President

The Vice President

Role and Responsibilities

  • The Vice President of the United States is second-in-command and is the first in the presidential line of succession.
  • The VP has the duty of presiding over the Senate, casting the tie-breaking vote when the Senate is deadlocked.
  • The specific duties of the Vice President often vary depending on the administration, and they often take on important portfolios at the President’s request.
  • The VP is also the ceremonial successor-in-waiting, attending state functions and ceremonies in the absence of the President.

Selection and Succession

  • The Vice President is selected by the presidential candidate and is usually chosen to balance the presidential ticket in terms of regional, ideological and personal characteristics.
  • In case of the presidential incapacity or death, the Vice President becomes the President as dictated by the 25th Amendment.

Vice Presidential Influence

  • The Vice President’s influence is largely determined by their relationship with the President, and varies greatly between administrations.
  • While traditionally the role of the Vice President was seen as largely ceremonial and less influential, in recent years, VPs like Dick Cheney and Joe Biden have held key roles and exercised significant influence in the administration.

Criticisms and Changes in Vice Presidential Role

  • It is often argued that the Vice President has a lack of clear and independent responsibilities aside from succeeding the President.
  • However, the position has evolved over the years with many Vice Presidents now taking on more policy-centric roles, becoming an essential part of the presidential administration.

Memorable Vice Presidents

  • Spiro Agnew, the VP for Richard Nixon, was the only Vice President to resign due to criminal charges.
  • Gerald Ford became President after the resignation of Nixon, but was never elected as either Vice President or President.
  • Kamala Harris is the current and first ever female, African American, and Asian American Vice President, serving under President Joe Biden.