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The vice president of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch[5][6] of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States,

The vice president of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch[5][6] of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president is empowered to preside over Senate deliberations, but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote.[7] The vice president is indirectly elected together with the president to a four-year term of office by the people of the United States through the Electoral College.[7]

The modern vice presidency is a position of significant power and is widely seen as an integral part of a president's administration. While the exact nature of the role varies in each administration, most modern vice presidents serve as a key presidential advisor, governing partner, and representative of the president. The vice president is also a statutory member of the National Security Council[7] and thus plays a significant role in national security matters. As the vice president's role within the executive branch has expanded, the legislative branch role has contracted; for example, vice presidents now preside over the Senate only infrequently.[8]

The role of the vice presidency has changed dramatically since the office was created during the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Originally something of an afterthought, the vice presidency was considered an insignificant office for much of the nation's history, especially after the Twelfth Amendment meant that vice presidents were no longer the runners-up in the presidential election. The vice president's role began steadily growing in importance during the 1930s, with the Office of the Vice President being created in the executive branch in 1939, and has since grown much further. Due to its increase in power and prestige, the vice presidency is now often considered to be a stepping stone to the presidency.

The Constitution does not expressly assign the vice presidency to any one branch, causing a dispute among scholars about which branch of government the office belongs to: 1) the executive branch; 2) the legislative branch; 3) both; or 4) neither.[8][9] The modern view of the vice president as an officer of the executive branch – one isolated almost totally from the legislative branch – is due in large part to the assignment of executive authority to the vice president by either the president or Congress.[8][10] Nevertheless, modern vice presidents have often previously served in Congress, and are often tasked with helping to advance an administration's legislative priorities.

Mike Pence is the 48th and current vice president of the United States. He assumed office on January 20, 2017, and will finish his term on January 20, 2021,[11] when Democratic president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris take office.