National Government


Legislative Branch of the U.S. Government

The legislative branch drafts proposed laws, confirms or rejects presidential nominations for heads of federal agencies, federal judges, and the Supreme Court, and has the authority to declare war. This branch includes Congress (the Senate and House of Representatives) and special agencies and offices that provide support services to Congress. American citizens have the right to vote for Senators and Representatives through free, confidential ballots.



  • There are two elected Senators per state, totaling 100 Senators.
  • A Senate term is six years and there is no limit to the number of terms an individual can serve.

House of Representatives

  • There are 435 elected Representatives, which are divided among the 50 states in proportion to their total population.
  • There are additional non-voting delegates who represent the District of Columbia and the territories.
  • A Representative serves a two-year term, and there is no limit to the number of terms an individual can serve.

Legislative Branch Agencies

The legislative branch includes Congress and the agencies that support its work.

  • Architect of the Capitol
  • Congressional Budget Office
  • Congressional Research Service
  • Copyright Office
  • Government Accountability Office
  • Government Publishing Office
  • House Office of Inspector General
  • House Office of the Clerk
  • Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies
  • Library of Congress
  • Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission
  • Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
  • Office of Compliance
  • Open World Leadership Center
  • Stennis Center for Public Service
  • U.S. Botanic Garden
  • U.S. Capitol Police
  • U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • U.S. Senate

Executive Branch of the U.S. Government

The executive branch carries out and enforces laws. It includes the president, vice president, the Cabinet, executive departments, independent agencies, and other boards, commissions, and committees.

American citizens have the right to vote for the president and vice president through free, confidential ballots.

Key roles of the executive branch include:

  • President-The President leads the country. He or she is the head of state, leader of the federal government, and Commander in Chief of the United States armed forces. The president serves a four-year term and can be elected no more than two times.
  • Vice president-The vice president supports the president. If the president is unable to serve, the vice president becomes president. The vice president can be elected and serve an unlimited number of four-year terms as vice president, even under a different president.
  • The Cabinet-Cabinet members serve as advisors to the president. They include the vice president, heads of executive departments, and other high-ranking government officials. Cabinet members are nominated by the president and must be approved by a simple majority of the Senate-51 votes if all 100 Senators vote.

Executive Branch Agencies, Commissions, and Committees

Much of the work in the executive branch is done by federal agencies, departments, committees, and other groups.

Executive Office of the President

The Executive Office of the president communicates the president's message and deals with the federal budget, security, and other high priorities.

  • Office of the President
  • Office of the Vice President
  • Council of Economic Advisers
  • Council on Environmental Quality
  • National Security Council
  • Office of Management and Budget
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Office of the United States Trade Representative

Executive Departments

These are the main agencies of the federal government. The heads of these 15 agencies are also members of the president's cabinet.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department of the Interior
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Executive Department Sub-Agencies and Bureaus

Smaller sub-agencies support specialized work within their parent executive department agencies.

Independent Agencies

These agencies are not represented in the cabinet and are not part of the Executive Office of the president. They deal with government operations, the economy, and regulatory oversight.

  • Administrative Conference of the United States
  • African Development Foundation
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Commission on Civil Rights
  • Commission on Presidential Scholars
  • Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission)
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
  • Denali Commission
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Export-Import Bank of the United States
  • Farm Credit Administration
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Federal Election Commission
  • Federal Housing Finance Agency
  • Federal Labor Relations Authority
  • Federal Maritime Commission
  • Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
  • Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
  • Federal Reserve System
  • Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • General Services Administration
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Inter-American Foundation
  • Merit Systems Protection Board
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • National Capital Planning Commission
  • National Credit Union Administration
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • National Labor Relations Board
  • National Mediation Board
  • National Railroad Passenger Corporation
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
  • Office of Government Ethics
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • Office of Special Counsel
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Peace Corps
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
  • Postal Regulatory Commission
  • Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
  • Railroad Retirement Board
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Selective Service System
  • Small Business Administration
  • Social Security Administration
  • Surface Transportation Board
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • U.S. Agency for Global Media
  • U.S. Agency for International Development
  • U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  • U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
  • U.S. International Trade Commission
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • U.S. Trade and Development Agency

Boards, Commissions, and Committees

Congress or the president establish these smaller organizations to manage specific tasks and areas that don't fall under parent agencies.

  • Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
  • American Battle Monuments Commission
  • Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program
  • Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
  • Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements
  • Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States
  • Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency
  • Delaware River Basin Commission
  • Delta Regional Authority
  • Endangered Species Program
  • Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council
  • Federal Financing Bank
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee
  • Federal Interagency Committee on Education
  • Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy
  • Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer
  • Federal Library and Information Center Committee
  • Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board
  • Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation
  • Indian Arts and Crafts Board
  • Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group
  • Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds
  • Interagency Council on Homelessness
  • James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation
  • Japan-United States Friendship Commission
  • Marine Mammal Commission
  • Migratory Bird Conservation Commission
  • Mississippi River Commission
  • Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation
  • National Council on Disability
  • National Park Foundation
  • Northern Border Regional Commission
  • Northwest Power and Conservation Council
  • Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board
  • Presidio Trust
  • Social Security Advisory Board
  • Susquehanna River Basin Commission
  • U.S. Arctic Research Commission
  • U.S. Chemical Safety Board
  • U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
  • Veterans Day National Committee

Quasi-Official Agencies

Although they're not officially part of the executive branch, these agencies are required by federal statute to release certain information about their programs and activities in the Federal Register, the daily journal of government activities.

  • Center for Parent Information and Resources
  • Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac)
  • Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)
  • Institute of Peace
  • John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Legal Services Corporation
  • National Constitution Center
  • National Gallery of Art
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • State Justice Institute
  • Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Judicial Branch of the U.S. Government

The judicial branch interprets the meaning of laws, applies laws to individual cases, and decides if laws violate the Constitution. It is comprised of the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

Supreme Court

Federal Courts and Judicial Agencies

Confirmation Process for Judges and Justices