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The Vice President

Second Gentleman of the United StatesDouglas C. Emhoff


The U.S. Constitution stipulates that while occupying his (or her) office for a term of 4 years, the President will serve the duration of that term together with the Vice President (ART. II, Sec. 1).


The Vice President is mentioned in two articles of the U.S. Constitution: Article I, Section 3, and Article II, Sections 1 and 4.

The contents of the 12th, 20th, and 25th Amendments directly affect the office and responsibilities of the Vice President.

In addition to the powers set forth in the U.S. Constitution, the statutes have conferred specific authority and responsibility, covering a range of matters, upon the President and Vice President. Subject matter affecting both the President and Vice President is codified in 3 U.S.C.


The executive functions of the Vice President include participation in Cabinet meetings.

Public Law 81–216, which is also cited as the National Security Act Amendments of 1949, changed the composition of the National Security Council to include the Vice President (63 Stat. 579).

By an Act that was approved on August 10, 1846, to establish the Smithsonian Institution, the Vice President serves as a regent on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution (9 Stat. 103).

Pursuant to Article II, Section 1, the powers and duties of the Presidency devolve on the Vice President in the case of the President's death, inability to discharge the office's powers and duties, or removal from office.

The Vice President also fills a legislative role as President of the Senate. In this capacity, the Vice President had been expected to preside at regular sessions of the Senate and cast votes only to break ties. From the vice-presidency of John Adams in 1789 to that of Richard Nixon in the 1950s, presiding over the Senate was the chief function of the Vice President. Each one had an office in the Capitol, received staff support and office expenses through the legislative appropriations, and rarely was invited to participate in executive activities, including Cabinet meetings. In 1961, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson moved his chief office from the Capitol to the White House, directed his attention to executive functions, and started attending Senate sessions only at critical times. His actions changed the traditional role of the Vice President, and those changes continue in effect today.

Sources of Information

Contact Information

The website of the United States Senates has a "Suite and Telephone List" (JUN 2021) that is accessible from its "Contacting U.S. Senators" web page. The list is posted in Portable Document Format (PDF) for viewing and downloading. Vice President Kamala D. Harris is the first entry on the list. Phone, 202-224-2424.


A brief biographical description of Vice President Harris is part of the "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–Present."

A short biography of Vice President Harris is available in Spanish.

Executive Branch

"The Executive Branch" web page includes a section describing the responsibilities and powers of the Vice President.

Immediate Priorities

The immediate priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration center on relief for American families and other related actions. The agenda of priorities includes bringing the pandemic under control, providing economic assistance, addressing the steadily increasing adverse effects of climate change, and further advancing racial equity and civil rights. Reforming the Nation's immigration system and improving America's international standing are also part of the Biden-Harris Administration's list of priorities.

President of the Senate

Vice President Harris also serves in a constitutionally mandated capacity as the President of the Senate.

Service Academy Nominations

The Vice President is authorized to nominate candidates to the U.S. Military, Naval, and Air Force Academies, but cannot make nominations to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and does not nominate to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.