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The President's Cabinet


The purpose of the Cabinet is to advise the President on matters relating to the duties of their respective offices. As the President's closest and most trusted advisors, members of the Cabinet attend weekly meetings with the President. The Constitution does not directly mention a "Cabinet," but the Constitutional authority for a Cabinet is found in Article II, Section 2. The Constitution states that the President "may require the opinion, in writing of the principle officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices." The Constitution does not say which or how many executive departments should be created.


Who makes up the Cabinet?
The Cabinet traditionally includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments-the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Attorney General. Cabinet-level rank has also been given to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; the Director of the National Drug Control Policy; the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security; and the U.S. Trade Representative.

When requested by the President, other officials are asked to attend these weekly meetings including, the President's Chief of Staff, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, the Counselor to the President, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Representative to the United Nations.

How does one become a member of the Cabinet?
The 15 Secretaries from the executive departments are appointed by the President, and they must be confirmed by a majority vote (51 votes) of the Senate. They cannot be a member of Congress or hold any other elected office. Cabinet appointments are for the duration of the administration, but the President may dismiss any member at any time, without approval of the Senate. In addition, they are expected to resign when a new President takes office.

Department of State Seal Secretary of State
Department of State (1789):
Handles foreign affairs and relationships with other nations. It makes recommendations on foreign policy, negotiates treaties, speaks for the United States in the United Nations, and represents the United States at international conferences.
Department of the Treasury Seal  Secretary  of the Treasury
Department of the Treasury (1789):
Formulates and recommends economic, financial, tax, and fiscal
policies; serves as financial agent for the US Government; enforces
the law; and manufactures coins and currency.
Department of Defense Seal Secretary of Defense
Department of Defense (1947):
Provides the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of the United States. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserve Forces are part of this Department.
Department of Justice Seal Attorney General
Department of Justice (1870):
Enforces and defends the Federal laws of the United States by preventing and controlling crime, seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and enforcing the Nation's immigration laws.
Department of the Interior Seal Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior (1849):
Oversees national conservation efforts and is responsible for most of our nationally owned public lands, natural resources, and wildlife.
Department of Agriculture Seal Secretary of Agriculture
Department of Agriculture (1862):
Ensures a safe, affordable, nutritious, and accessible food supply; cares for agriculture, forest, and range lands; supports the development of rural communities; and provides economic development for farmers and rural residents.
Department of Commerce Seal Secretary of Commerce
Department of Commerce (1903):
Promotes economic, business, and job opportunities for all Americans. It is responsible for all copyrights, patents, and trademarks. It also plays a major role in Federal government matters related to oceans, weather, and technology.
Department of Labor Seal Secretary of Labor
Department of Labor (1913):
Oversees the interests of US workers by protecting workers' wages, health and safety employment and pension rights; promoting equal employment opportunity; and administering job training, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation programs.
Department of Health and Human Services Seal Secretary of Health & Human Services
Department of Health and Human Services (1953):
Protects the health of all Americans and provides essential human services. The duties of the Department include conducting medical research, preventing the outbreak of diseases, assuring the safety of food and drugs; administering financial assistance for low income families; protecting against child and domestic abuse; and protecting against drug abuse.
Department of Housing and Urban Development Seal Secretary of Housing & Development
Department of Housing and Urban Development (1965):
Aims to create a decent, safe, and sanitary home and living environment for every American. It is responsible for home ownership programs, providing housing assistance for low income persons, helping the homeless, and promoting growth and development in distressed neighborhoods.
Department of Transportation Seal Secretary of Transportation
Department of Transportation (1966):
Ensures a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system. This includes transportation of people and goods by car, plane, train, and ship. It is also responsible for maintaining the Federal highway system.
Department of Energy Seal Secretary of Energy
Department of Energy (1977):
Researches and develops reliable energy systems that are friendly to the environment, but are not too expensive. It is also responsible for the Nation's nuclear energy and weapons technologies.
Department of Education Seal Secretary of Education
Department of Education (1979):
Establishes guidelines and provides leadership to address American education. It helps local communities meet the needs of their students. It also helps individuals pay for college and prepare for employment.
Department of Veterans Affairs Seal Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs (1988):
Acts as the principal advocate for veterans and their families ensuring that they receive medical care, benefits, social support, and lasting memorials recognizing their service.
Department of Homeland Security Seal Secretary of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security (2003):
Works to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage from potential attacks and natural disasters.

Line of Succession
The Cabinet is an important part of the presidential line of succession, which is the process that determines who may become or act as President of the United States upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting president or a president-elect. The presidential line of succession is enumerated in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 as amended.

Vice PresidentSpeaker of the House of Representatives
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Homeland Security


  Because of this, it is common practice not to have the entire Cabinet in one location, even for ceremonial occasions like the State of the Union Address. This person is the designated survivor, and they are held at a secure, undisclosed location, ready to take over if the President, Vice President, and the rest of the Cabinet are killed.

Credit: U.S. GPO ,The Whitehouse