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029 What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?

29. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?
• Richard Cheney
• Dick Cheney
• Cheney

While the president of the United States has an exciting and important job running the country, the vice president does not have as big a role (or job) in the U.S. government. According to the U.S. Constitution, the vice president does only two things. First, if the president is unable to continue working as president, the vice president becomes the new president. Second, the vice president is the president of the Senate (or lawmaking part of government) and can vote to break ties (or decide which side wins when each side has an equal number of votes). In addition to these two main jobs, the vice president has some other duties (or responsibilities) that the president can give to him or her.

Normally the vice president is elected (or chosen by the people) with the president during the normal presidential elections. But this is something interesting: Two men have been vice presidents without ever being elected – and one of them even became president without ever being elected!

How did this happen? In 1968, Richard Nixon was elected president of the United States and Spiro Agnew was elected his vice president. However, there were many scandals during their administration (or the period of time he was president of the United States). A scandal is something that happens where a famous person behaves badly and people become very angry about it. Because of these scandals, Spiro Agnew resigned (or decided to stop working) as vice president in 1973. When that happened, Gerald Ford was nominated to become the new vice president, meaning that President Richard Nixon wanted Gerald Ford to be his new vice president and the Senate approved the nomination (or said it was okay). He was not elected, but given the job by the president and the Senate.

Just one year later, in 1974, the scandals had become worse and President Richard Nixon resigned. When that happened, Vice President Gerald Ford became the new president. But he had never been elected by the voters! This was the first and only time that the United States had a president who was not elected by the voters.

And, after Gerald Ford became president, the vice presidency was vacant (or empty), so he nominated Nelson Rockefeller to become the new vice president. This was the second and last time that the United States had a vice president who wasn't elected by the voters.


role – a job; a position; a function
* As a marketing professional, her role is to find new customers for the company's products.

to break a tie – to vote only when an equal number of people vote for or against something, so that one's vote decides the result
* Half of the students voted to read this book and the other half voted to read that book, so the teacher had to vote to break the tie.

duty – responsibility; something that someone must do
* The Finance Officer's main duty is to manage the company's investments.

administration – the period of time when one person is serving or working as president
* What were the biggest changes during the last president’s administration?

scandal – something that happens where a famous person behaves badly and normal people become angry about it
* The Senator created a big scandal when he accepted major gifts from oil companies.

to resign – to chose to leave a job; to choose to leave a public position before one has finished the normal period of time
* When employees started complaining about how their manager was treating them, he decided to resign instead of defend himself.

to nominate (someone) – to say that one wants someone to work in a particular position or to have a particular title, prize, or award
* How many people were nominated for the writing award?

vacant – empty; without anyone working in a particular position or job
* That position has been vacant for more than two months, because they can't find anyone who has the right experience for the job.