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Vice President of the United States

Updated on January 6, 2017

The Vice President of the United States is the second-highest ranking official in the U.S. government. The president and vice president are the only nationally elected officials.

When a President dies in office, the Vice-President serves as President for the duration of the four-year Presidential term. The Vice-President also assumes the Presidency if the President resigns, is removed from office by impeachment, or becomes physically or mentally unable to perform his duties.

A Vice-President may also be appointed by the President with the approval of both houses of Congress if the office of Vice-President is vacant. The qualifications for the Vice-Presidency are the same as for the Presidency. A candidate must be a native-born citizen at least 35 years of age.

The Constitution of the United States prescribes only one duty for the vice president. He is the president, or presiding officer, of the U. S. Senate, and if a Senate vote ends in a tie the vice president may vote to break the tie. The vice president has been assigned other duties by statute, and the president may give him other responsibilities. All such responsibilities, including that of presiding over the Senate, are relatively insignificant, and the importance of the vice president derives almost entirely from the fact that- at any moment he may succeed to the most powerful office in the world.

Social Duties

Traditionally a major role of the Vice-President has been to assist the President at social functions. This role has grown with the growth of Presidential responsibilities, especially because the President is too busy to attend all the functions to which he is invited. In the absence of the President the Vice-President greets important dignitaries visiting Washington, D.C.; holds meetings with business, labor, and other leaders; attends luncheons and dinners for diplomats and other representatives from foreign countries; and welcomes delegations of Boy Scouts, high school students, and senior citizens to the capital.

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