Is the Office of the Vice President part of the Executive Branch?

Not exactly, according to filings from that office:

This was submitted by the OVP in lieu of a list of Executive appointees in that office that would normally have gone in something called the Plum Book, an annual roster of Executive appointees. Cheney’s argument seems to be ‘that doesn’t apply to us; we’re really not part of the Executive.’

The OVP is now making that argument over a more substantive issue: the requirement that Executive agencies provide statistics on document classification and declassification by their offices. Per U.S. News & World Report:

It’s never really been an issue before now, due to the rather slight degree of power delegated by Presidents to their Veeps. But whether or not one thinks of the current Presidency as the “Cheney Administration,” the fact is that Dick Cheney has been the most influential Veep in memory. Accordingly, the question of whether legislation applying to the Executive Branch generally applies to the OVP is of some importance.

A quick review of what the Constitution has to say about the Vice Presidency:

From Article I, Section 3:

From Article II, Section 1:

Article II, Section 4:

The 12th Amendment:

20th Amendment, Section 1:

20th Amendment, Section 3:

25th Amendment:

The weird thing is, I think Cheney actually has a half-decent argument here. The Vice-President clearly does have legislative as well as executive functions. The fact that the Veep is first in the line of succession doesn’t specifically place him in the Executive Branch; the Speaker of the House is next, and nobody considers the Speaker to be part of the Executive. The main things going for the Veep being specifically part of the Executive Branch are (a) the fact that the President and Veep are elected by the same unique mechanism; (b) the fact that the Veep, like the President and other Executive officers, can be impeached; and © long custom, notably the fact that the Veep is chosen by the President and has no real powers of his own.

But the one specific power of the Veep is the ability to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, which is a legislative power.

So, what is the Veep, really? Part of the Executive Branch? Part of the Legislative Branch? One foot in both worlds? A fourth, undefined branch of its own?

Have at it. I sure can’t tell.

Jesus, given that reasoning neither can I. The best argument I can find against it is that there are only three branches of government and the Office of the Vice President has to fit into ONE of them somehow. I don’t think it can be defined as some ‘ill-defined fourth branch’.

Easiest would be an act of Congress placing reporting requirements for the OVP into the Executive Branch category. But I betcha that would face constitutional review.

Depends on our definition of “is,” I suppose.

This federal web site has the Veep in the Executive Department. Further, Article II of the United States Constitution deals with the Executive Department.

The thing is, everything has to be in one branch: anything else would violate the separation of powers. The VP’s role as President of the Senate rarely matters that much, especially since there haven’t been very many tie-breaking votes necessary. In addition, that’s the only legislative power he has; Cheney, like Bush, cannot propose any legislation. They can both ask individual members of Congress to propose it for them, but they can’t actually do it themselves. I suppose you could view the VP’s tie-breaking role in the Senate as a much weaker form of the President’s veto powers, so that could simply be an analogous executive responsibility.

I’d venture that prior to any vote where the majority party thought it would come to a tie breaker, said majority party would already be fairly certain of the veep’s inclinations and would do their utmost to ensure it wouldn’t come down to his vote.

Not necessarily, and that wouldn’t matter anyway. He still gets a vote.

Although the OP’s thesis looks obviously correct on the face of it, I can’t see all the pieces of the puzzle. The first cite (which is a PDF, btw) is the appendix of some document. What document is it, and what is the context of those statements? The second cite seems unrelated to the first*, and seems to be talking about an executive order, not an act of Congress. If it’s an executive order, then I think Mr. Leonard is correct when he says:

So, I’m withholding judgement until I see how this all fits together, even though Cheney’s claims seem spurious at best.

*if it is related, it’s unlcear to me how so.

I’m tempted to blame the Framers for having a brainfart – but who ever could have imagined it would come to this? Not even the Nixon Admin was this obsessed with secrecy nor this resistant to accountability!

Well, I don’t think the Framers ever expected the Vice President to have a staf, or produce documents, or anything like that. He was just the loser of the last election, who hung out at the Senate while he waited for the President to die.

Right. Actually, the Vice-President was the one who received the second highest total of electoral votes. It seems to me that the language of the Constitution is clear that the framers anticipated a number of candidates for President and not just two major ones.

After the mess in the election in which Thomas Jefferson and AAron Burr received equal numbers of electoral votes The House of Representatives named Jefferson making Burr the Vice-President. There was a lot of mutual dislike between the two and it was realised that the system had to be changed. It was changed by the XII Amendment which calls for the separate election of President and Vice-President…

The office of Vice-President has changed considerably since Roosevelt’s VP,John Nance Garner, said that it wasn’t worth “a bucket of warm spit.” There is some doubt that “spit” was an exact quote, but that’s the way it appeared in the press.

The Vice-President has no more executive power than the President *allows * him to have. Anything Deadeye Dick has done is because the Boy in the Bubble has *let * him do it. Focus your blame on the right target first.

Yes, it’s hard to see the Framers imagining the President derelicting his duties so completely. But then again, we’ve had other past bouts of disengaged or incapacitated Presidents having actual power taken to some large extent by senior White House staffers - the fact that this time it’s the VP doing it reflects only the modern trend of the President actually giving him some important stuff to do.

Captain Carrot, I hope you don’t mind my using your post as a starting point for further discussion. I chose your post mostly because of its completeness; it provided a good springboard to work from for a general response to what’s been said so far here. The only thing you said that I took more than mild exception to was your analogy between the Veep’s tie-breaking vote and the President’s veto power.

Separation of powers is a doctrine that is implicit in the Constitution, but it depends on the Constitution, not the other way around. And even the notion (per JC’s post) that there are exactly three branches of government, and everything is in just one, is an implication that we draw from the way the Constitution is organized.

I personally think the Constitution’s structure itself argues for that proposition. I wonder whether the Supremes would agree? Or would they give that little weight, and rely strictly on the Constitutional wording?

When the GOP was contemplating ending judicial filibusters in the Senate, part of the plan was to seek a ruling from the chair that judicial filibusters were impermissible, and a simple majority would suffice to end debate. The Veep would have been expected to preside and give that ruling, since such a ruling coming from any lesser holder of the gavel would have been suspect.

So there can be more to the Veep’s role in the Senate than tie-breaking. But I would agree that such instances are rare. I can’t remember another situation where it seemed as if the Veep was going to substantively intervene in the Senate’s processes in ways other than tie-breaking.

I think that’s a bit of a stretch. The veep can turn a tie into a majority vote for the bill, which doesn’t resemble a veto at all.

And one that we draw from the voluminous writings of the Founding Fathers[sup]tm[/sup]. Exhibit A: the separation of Church and State, which phrase is found neither in the Constitution nor in the Declaration of Independence, but is one of Thomas Jefferson’s cherished principles.

That part doesn’t, no, but the rest kinda does. The vice president can turn a tie in favor of the executive branch, but can do nothing otherwise. The president can veto if the balance is close, but it will have no effect otherwise. Anyway, it was mostly an afterthought.
In any case, both abilities are ways for the executive to exercise direct influence over the lawmaking process before the absolute end.

I think this the key to solving this riddle.

Yes, the VP has some legislative function, but he also acts as a minister-without-portfolio within the administration. The Presdent delegates certain adminstrative functions to the VP just as he might to a cabinet officer or another body or commission. To the extent that the VP acts in connection with this delegated responsibility, it should be considered executive functioning.

Of course the VP is part of the Executive Branch. Cheney will argue otherwise right up to the moment that the branch of which he now claims to be a part - the Democratically-controlled Congress - actually attemps to make him do something he doesn’t want to.

The Framers didn’t give the VP much thought, compared to the method of chosing the President, what powers to give Congress, etc. The position is somewhat ambiguous, I’ll grant you. Under the Constitution, the VP may have a toe or two in the Legislative Branch, with his power to break ties in the Senate (for an interesting list thereof, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Vice_Presidents’_tie-breaking_votes, but otherwise both of his feet are completely in the Executive Branch. His method of selection and of taking office, his position as designated successor to the President, his impeachability, etc., all indicate that he is an Exec Branch officer.

Historically, I’ll concede that there is some support for Cheney’s position. According to Wiki, VPs didn’t attend Cabinet meetings from 1791 through 1918, and no VP had an actual White House or West Wing office until Carter gave Mondale one. Nowadays, though, due to his statutory role on the NSC and the now-customary (and sure to be remarked upon and criticized, if any President ever stopped it) inclusion of the VP in briefings, Cabinet meetings, and virtually all Executive Branch matters, the VP is surely part of that branch.

I’m not surprised that this White House would make such an argument, though. The fact that it just happens to support this VP’s natural secretiveness is wholly coincidental, I’m sure. :rolleyes:

I don’t think this administration is going to be satisfied til it creates a full-blown constitutional crisis.

Makes sense to me.

Well, come on, obviously this violates the intent of the requirements - whether or not there is some linguistic technical loophole or not. And is Cheney doing this for any reason other than the technicality? If he’s not doing it on the basis of any actual principle, then why not just perform the request? Surely this isn’t the first legal document to have ever used the term “Executive branch” - wouldn’t this term have already had a legal definition hashed out long ago? And why does the requirement limit itself to the Exectutive branch? If the reporting requirements are needed, why aren’t they universal for anyone at all that comes into posession of classified information? Is the executive branch specifically excluded from these sorts of requirements, and if so, why?

As has been pointed out in other threads: If Cheney is actually a member of Congress, he has no executive privilege. He also can be expelled from office by a simple majority vote of the Senate without any impeachment process. :smiley:

From Daily Kos: (warning: lefty site, tighty righty advisory: Shields Up)

Emphasis gleefully added…