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Dick Cheney: The Vice Presidency Is a 4th Branch of Government Unto Itself

Brian Zick

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David Kurtz at TPM quotes from a government directory known as the "Plum Book," to which Cheney's office submitted this entry in lieu of a list of its employees, as federal agencies must do: The Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. The Vice Presidency performs functions in both the legislative branch (see article I, section 3 of the Constitution) and in the executive branch (see article II, and amendments XII and XXV, of the Constitution and section 106 of title 3 of the United States Code). neither 1 : not either 2 : also not One might have thought it could go without saying that, had the founders considered the Vice President not to be a part either of the executive or legislative branch, they would have crafted an additional Article to distinguish the job description, as Articles I, II, and III each define the legislative, executive and judiciary branches. By definition - it apparently does need be said - the text of the Constitution plainly spells out functions of the VP to be performed in both executive and legislative arenas of government. And ergo of course the VP is "a part" of both branches. Cheney's characterization defies elementary reading comprehension. It is noteworthy that Cheney goes through this exercise of distortion to separate the office of VP from the executive branch, and to give greater significant weight to the legislative powers of the office: "The Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter." And this despite the text of the title 3 code, cited in the paragraph, crafted explicitly "to enable the Vice President to provide assistance to the President." Plus the cite is truly baffling, given that what it addresses primarily are issues of money - salaries, fees, expenditures, for entertainment, travel and subsistence - related to the VP's spouse and family. It's rather quite a different view of the job than that held by John Nance Garner.

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