Cabinet of the United States

The Cabinet of the United States is part of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States. The Cabinet's role, inferred from the language of the Opinion Clause (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) of the Constitution, is to serve as an advisory body to the President of the United States. Additionally, the Twenty-fifth Amendment authorizes the Vice President, together with a majority of certain members of the Cabinet, to declare the president "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office". Among the senior officers of the Cabinet are the Vice President and the heads of the federal executive departments, all of whom—if eligible—are in the line of succession. Members of the Cabinet (except for the Vice President) serve at the pleasure of the President, who can dismiss them at will for no cause. All federal public officials, including Cabinet members, are also subject to impeachment by the House of Representatives and trial in the Senate for "treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors".

The President can also unilaterally designate senior White House staffers, heads of other federal agencies as members of the Cabinet, although this is a symbolic status marker and does not, apart from attending Cabinet meetings, confer any additional powers.

History

The tradition of the Cabinet arose out of the debates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention regarding whether the president would exercise executive authority singly or collaboratively with a cabinet of ministers or a privy council. As a result of the debates, the Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 1) vests "all executive power" in the president singly, and authorizes—but does not compel—the president (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) to "require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices".[1][2] The Constitution does not specify what the executive departments will be, how many there will be, or what their duties should be.

George Washington, the first U.S. President, organized his principal officers into a Cabinet, and it has been part of the executive branch structure ever since. Washington's Cabinet consisted of five members: himself, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox and Attorney General Edmund Randolph. Vice President John Adams was not included in Washington's Cabinet because the position was initially regarded as a legislative officer (President of the Senate).[3] It was not until the 20th century that Vice Presidents were regularly included as members of the Cabinet and came to be regarded primarily as a member of the executive branch.

Presidents have used Cabinet meetings of selected principal officers but to widely differing extents and for different purposes. Secretary of State William H. Seward and then Professor Woodrow Wilson advocated the use of a parliamentary-style Cabinet government. But President Abraham Lincoln rebuffed Seward, and Woodrow Wilson would have none of it in his administration. In recent administrations, Cabinets have grown to include key White House staff in addition to department and various agency heads. President Ronald Reagan formed seven subcabinet councils to review many policy issues, and subsequent Presidents have followed that practice.[2]

Federal law

In 3 U.S.C. § 302 with regard to delegation of authority by the President, it is provided that "nothing herein shall be deemed to require express authorization in any case in which such an official would be presumed in law to have acted by authority or direction of the President." This pertains directly to the heads of the executive departments as each of their offices is created and specified by statutory law (hence the presumption) and thus gives them the authority to act for the President within their areas of responsibility without any specific delegation.

Under the 1967 Federal Anti-Nepotism statute, federal officials are prohibited from appointing their immediate family members to certain governmental positions, including those in the Cabinet.[4]

Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, an administration may appoint acting heads of department from employees of the relevant department. These may be existing high-level career employees, from political appointees of the outgoing administration (for new administrations), or sometimes lower-level appointees of the administration.[5]

Confirmation process

The heads of the executive departments and all other federal agency heads are nominated by the President and then presented to the Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority (although before the use of the "nuclear option" during the 113th US Congress, they could have been blocked by filibuster, requiring cloture to be invoked by ​35 supermajority to further consideration). If approved, they receive their commission scroll, are sworn in and then begin their duties.

An elected Vice President does not require Senate confirmation, nor does the White House Chief of Staff, which is an appointed staff position of the Executive Office of the President.

Office Senate Confirmation Review Committee
Secretary of State Foreign Relations Committee
Secretary of the Treasury Finance Committee
Secretary of Defense Armed Services Committee
Attorney General Judiciary Committee
Secretary of the Interior Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Secretary of Agriculture Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee
Secretary of Commerce Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Secretary of Labor Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
Secretary of Health and Human Services Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (consult)
Finance Committee (official)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee
Secretary of Transportation Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Secretary of Energy Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Secretary of Education Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Veterans Affairs Committee
Secretary of Homeland Security Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Trade Representative Finance Committee
Director of National Intelligence Select Committee on Intelligence
Office of Management and Budget Budget Committee
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Select Committee on Intelligence
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Environment and Public Works Committee
Administrator of the Small Business Administration Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee

Salary

The heads of the executive departments and most other senior federal officers at cabinet or sub-cabinet level receive their salary under a fixed five-level pay plan known as the Executive Schedule, which is codified in Title 5 of the United States Code. Twenty-one positions, including the heads of the executive departments and others, receiving Level I pay are listed in 5 U.S.C. § 5312, and those forty-six positions on Level II pay (including the number two positions of the executive departments) are listed in 5 U.S.C. § 5313. As of January 2016, the Level I annual pay was set at $205,700.[6]

The annual salary of the Vice President is $235,300.[6] The salary level was set by the Government Salary Reform Act of 1989, which provides an automatic cost of living adjustment for federal employees. The Vice President receives the same pension as other members of Congress based on his ex officio position as President of the Senate.[7]

Current Cabinet and Cabinet-rank officials

The individuals listed below were nominated by President Donald Trump to form his Cabinet and were confirmed by the United States Senate on the date noted, or are serving as acting department heads by his request pending the confirmation of his nominees. For a full list of people nominated for Cabinet positions, see Formation of Donald Trump's Cabinet.

Vice President and the heads of the executive departments

The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments, listed here according to their order of succession to the Presidency. These 15 positions are the core "cabinet member" seats, as distinct from other Cabinet-level seats for other various top level White House staffers and heads of other government agencies, none of whom are in the presidential line of succession and not all of whom are Officers of the United States.[8] Note that the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate follow the Vice President and precede the Secretary of State in the order of succession, but both are in the legislative branch and are not part of the Cabinet.

Cabinet-level officials

The following officials hold positions that are considered to be Cabinet-level positions:

Cabinet-level Officials
Office Incumbent Term began

White House Chief of Staff
(Pub.L. 76–19, 53 Stat. 561, enacted April 3, 1939,
Executive Order 8248, Executive Order 10452,
Executive Order 12608)

Mick Mulvaney
January 2, 2019
Acting

Trade Representative
(19 U.S.C. § 2171)

Robert Lighthizer
May 15, 2017

Director of National Intelligence[9][10]
(50 U.S.C. § 3023)

Dan Coats
March 16, 2017

Director of the Office of Management and Budget
(31 U.S.C. § 502, Executive Order 11541,
Executive Order 11609, Executive Order 11717)

Mick Mulvaney
February 16, 2017

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency[9]
(50 U.S.C. § 3036)

Gina Haspel
April 26, 2018[n 2]

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
(5 U.S.C. § 906, Executive Order 11735)

Andrew Wheeler
July 9, 2018[n 3]

Administrator of the Small Business Administration
(15 U.S.C. § 633)

Chris Pilkerton
April 13, 2019
Acting
  1. ^ Bernhardt served as Acting Secretary from January 2, 2019 until April 11, 2019.
  2. ^ Haspel served as Acting Director from April 26, 2018 until May 21, 2018.
  3. ^ Wheeler served as Acting Administrator from July 9, 2018 until February 28, 2019.

Former executive and Cabinet-level departments

Renamed heads of the executive departments

Other positions no longer of Cabinet rank

Proposed Cabinet departments

  • "Department of Industry and Commerce", proposed by Secretary of the Treasury William Windom in a speech given at a Chamber of Commerce dinner in May 1881.[22]
  • "Department of Natural Resources", proposed by the Eisenhower administration,[23] President Richard Nixon,[24] the 1976 GOP national platform,[25] and by Bill Daley (as a consolidation of the Departments of the Interior and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency).[26]
  • "Department of Peace", proposed by Senator Matthew Neely in the 1930s, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and other members of the U.S. Congress.[27][28]
  • "Department of Social Welfare", proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt in January 1937.[29]
  • "Department of Public Works", proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt in January 1937.[29]
  • "Department of Conservation" (renamed Department of Interior) proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt in January 1937.[29]
  • "Department of Urban Affairs and Housing", proposed by President John F. Kennedy.[30]
  • "Department of Business and Labor", proposed by President Lyndon Johnson.[31]
  • "Department of Community Development", proposed by President Richard Nixon; to be chiefly concerned with rural infrastructure development.[24][32]
  • "Department of Human Resources" proposed by President Richard Nixon; essentially a revised Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.[24]
  • "Department of Economic Affairs" proposed by President Richard Nixon; essentially a consolidation of the Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Agriculture.[33]
  • "Department of Environmental Protection", proposed by Senator Arlen Specter and others.[34]
  • "Department of Intelligence", proposed by former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.[35]
  • "Department of Global Development", proposed by the Center for Global Development.[36]
  • "Department of Arts", proposed by Quincy Jones.[37]
  • "Department of Business", proposed by President Barack Obama as a consolidation of the U.S. Department of Commerce's core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.[38][39]
  • "Department of Education and the Workforce" proposed by President Donald Trump as a consolidation of the Departments of Education and Labor.[40]
  • "Department of Health and Public Welfare proposed by President Donald Trump as a renamed Department of Health and Human Services[41]

Gallery

State-dining-room-polk-cabinet

James K. Polk and his Cabinet in 1846. The first Cabinet to be photographed.

President Taylor and his cabinet

President Taylor and his Cabinet

Buchanan Cabinet

President Buchanan and his Cabinet

Emancipation proclamation

Abraham Lincoln met with his Cabinet for the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation draft (July 26, 1862).

Cleveland First Cabinet

President Cleveland and his first Cabinet

Cleveland Second Cabinet

President Cleveland and his second Cabinet

Theodore Roosevelt outgoing cabinet

President Theodore Roosevelt's Cabinet

President William H. Taft's Second Cabinet 1912

President William H. Taft's second cabinet, 1912
(photographed by Harris & Ewing photo studio)

President Nixon with his first term cabinet

The Nixon Cabinet, 1969

Photograph of President Gerald R. Ford Presiding Over an Afternoon Cabinet Meeting in the Cabinet Room - NARA - 186811

President Gerald R. Ford meeting with his Cabinet (June 25, 1976)

Cabinet Meeting with Jimmy Carter - NARA - 177955

President Jimmy Carter's Cabinet meeting (February 13, 1978)

Photograph of President Reagan leading a Cabinet Meeting - NARA - 198576

President Reagan and his Cabinet (September 11, 1986)

President Bush conducts a full Cabinet Meeting in the Cabinet Room - NARA - 186399

President George H. W. Bush and his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room (September 5, 1989).

Clinton Administration

The Clinton Cabinet, in 1993.

George W. Bush Cabinet 2008

The Bush Cabinet (February 2008).

President Barack Obama with full cabinet 09-10-09

The first Obama Cabinet (September 2009).

See also

References

  1. ^ Prakash, Sai. "Essays on Article II:Executive Vesting Clause". The Heritage Guide to The Constitution. The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Gaziano, Todd. "Essays on Article II: Opinion Clause". The Heritage Guide to The Constitution. The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2018.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Wulwick, Richard P.; Macchiarola, Frank J. (1995). "Congressional Interference With The President's Power To Appoint" (PDF). Stetson Law Review. XXIV: 625–652. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  5. ^ Pierce, Olga (January 22, 2009). "Who Runs Departments Before Heads Are Confirmed?". ProPublica. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Obama, Barack (December 19, 2014). "ADJUSTMENTS OF CERTAIN RATES OF PAY" (PDF). EXECUTIVE ORDER 13686. The White House. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  7. ^ Purcell, Patrick J. (January 21, 2005). "Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 3, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  8. ^ The White House. "The Cabinet". Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "President Donald J. Trump Announces His Cabinet". White House. February 8, 2017. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  10. ^ Demirjian, Karoun (March 15, 2017). "Coats confirmed as nation's new spy chief". Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 16, 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  11. ^ The office of Secretary of Foreign Affairs existed under the Articles of Confederation from October 20, 1781 to March 3, 1789, the day before the Constitution came into force.
  12. ^ "Clayton Yeutter's Obituary". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 31, 2018.
  13. ^ "President Clinton Raises FEMA Director to Cabinet Status" (Press release). Federal Emergency Management Agency. February 26, 1996. Archived from the original on January 16, 1997. Retrieved May 22, 2009.
  14. ^ Fowler, Daniel (November 19, 2008). "Emergency Managers Make It Official: They Want FEMA Out of DHS". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on March 4, 2010. Retrieved March 3, 2010. During the Clinton administration, FEMA Administrator James Lee Witt met with the Cabinet. His successor in the Bush administration, Joe M. Allbaugh, did not.(Archived March 3, 2010, by WebCite at
  15. ^ Tenet, George (2007). At the Center of the Storm. London: HarperCollins. p. 136. ISBN 0-06-114778-8. Under President Clinton, I was a Cabinet member—a legacy of John Deutch's requirement when he took the job as DCI—but my contacts with the president, while always interesting, were sporadic. I could see him as often as I wanted but was not on a regular schedule. Under President Bush, the DCI lost its Cabinet-level status.
  16. ^ Schoenfeld, Gabriel (July – August 2007). "The CIA Follies (Cont'd.)". Commentary. Retrieved May 22, 2009. Though he was to lose the Cabinet rank he had enjoyed under Clinton, he came to enjoy "extraordinary access" to the new President, who made it plain that he wanted to be briefed every day.
  17. ^ Sciolino, Elaine (September 29, 1996). "C.I.A. Chief Charts His Own Course". New York Times. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2009. It is no secret that Mr. Deutch initially turned down the intelligence position, and was rewarded for taking it by getting Cabinet rank.
  18. ^ Clinton, Bill (July 1, 1993). "Remarks by the President and Lee Brown, Director of Office of National Drug Control Policy". White House. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2009. We are here today to install a uniquely qualified person to lead our nation's effort in the fight against illegal drugs and what they do to our children, to our streets, and to our communities. And to do it for the first time from a position sitting in the President's Cabinet.
  19. ^ Cook, Dave (March 11, 2009). "New drug czar gets lower rank, promise of higher visibility". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved March 16, 2009. For one thing, in the Obama administration the Drug Czar will not have Cabinet status, as the job did during George W. Bush's administration.
  20. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces His Cabinet". whitehouse.gov. February 8, 2017. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  21. ^ "President Trump announces his full Cabinet roster". Archived from the original on February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  22. ^ "A Department of Commerce" (PDF). The New York Times. May 13, 1881.
  23. ^ Company, DIANE Publishing (April 1, 1998). "Improving Management and Organization in Federal Natural Resources and Environmental Functions: Hearing Before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, U. S. Senate". DIANE Publishing. Retrieved February 20, 2017 – via Google Books. Chairman STEVENS. Thank you very much. I think both of you are really pointing in the same direction as this Committee. I do hope we can keep it on a bipartisan basis. Mr. Dean, when I was at the Interior Department, I drafted Eisenhower's Department of Natural Resources proposal, and we have had a series of them that have been presented.
  24. ^ a b c "116 - Special Message to the Congress on Executive Branch Reorganization". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. The administration is today transmitting to the Congress four bills which, if enacted, would replace seven of the present executive departments and several other agencies with four new departments: the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Community Development, the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Economic Affairs.
  25. ^ "Republican Party Platform of 1976". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. August 18, 1976.
  26. ^ Thrush, Glenn (November 8, 2013). "Locked in the Cabinet". Politico. Archived from the original on November 17, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  27. ^ Schuman, Frederick L. (1969). Why a Department of Peace. Beverly Hills: Another Mother for Peace. p. 56. OCLC 339785. Archived from the original on November 20, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  28. ^ "History of Legislation to Create a Dept. of Peace". Archived from the original on July 20, 2006.
  29. ^ a b c "10 - Summary of the Report of the Committee on Administrative Management". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. Overhaul the more than 100 separate departments, boards, commissions, administrations, authorities, corporations, committees, agencies and activities which are now parts of the Executive Branch, and theoretically under the President, and consolidate them within twelve regular departments, which would include the existing ten departments and two new departments, a Department of Social Welfare, and a Department of Public Works. Change the name of the Department of Interior to Department of Conservation.
  30. ^ "23 - Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Reorganization Plan 1 of 1962". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project.
  31. ^ "121 - Special Message to the Congress: The Quality of American Government". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. In my State of the Union Address, and later in my Budget and Economic Messages to the Congress, I proposed the creation of a new Department of Business and Labor.
  32. ^ "33 - Special Message to the Congress on Rural Development". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project.
  33. ^ "116 - Special Message to the Congress on Executive Branch Reorganization". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. The new Department of Economic Affairs would include many of the offices that are now within the Departments of Commerce, Labor and Agriculture. A large part of the Department of Transportation would also be relocated here, including the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Railroad Administration, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Systems Center, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Motor Carrier Safety Bureau and most of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Small Business Administration, the Science Information Exchange program from the Smithsonian Institution, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Office of Technology Utilization from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would also be included in the new Department.
  34. ^ "Public Notes on 02-RMSP3". Archived from the original on June 13, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  35. ^ J. Stapelton Roy (June 29, 2007). "A Conversation with Michael McConnell". Council on Foreign Relations. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  36. ^ "Time for a Cabinet-Level U.S. Department of Global Development". The Center for Global Development.
  37. ^ Clarke, Jr., John (January 16, 2009). "Quincy Jones Lobbies Obama for Secretary of Culture Post". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 19, 2010.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  38. ^ "President Obama Announces proposal to reform, reorganize and consolidate Government". Barack Obama White House. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  39. ^ "Obama Suggests 'Secretary of Business' in a 2nd Term - Washington Wire - WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  40. ^ "White House Proposes Merging Education And Labor Departments". NPR.org. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  41. ^ "Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations" (PDF). White House. 2018. line feed character in |title= at position 52 (help)

Further reading

  • Bennett, Anthony. The American President's Cabinet. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1996. ISBN 0-333-60691-4. A study of the U.S. Cabinet from Kennedy to Clinton.
  • Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO; three volumes, 2000; reprint, New York: Greyhouse Publishing; two volumes, 2010). A history of the United States and Confederate States Cabinets, their secretaries, and their departments.
  • Rudalevige, Andrew. "The President and the Cabinet", in Michael Nelson, ed., The Presidency and the Political System, 8th ed. (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2006).

External links

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is the head of the United States federal government's Environmental Protection Agency, and is thus responsible for enforcing the nation's Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, as well as numerous other environmental statutes. The Administrator is nominated by the President of the United States and must be confirmed by a vote of the Senate. The office of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970 in legislation that created the agency.

The EPA Administrator is customarily accorded Cabinet rank by the President and sits with the President, Vice President, and the 15 Cabinet Secretaries. Since the late 1980s, there has been a movement to make the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency a Cabinet Secretary, thus making the EPA a 16th Cabinet department, dealing with environmental policy. The Administrator of the EPA is equivalent to the position of Minister of the Environment in other countries.

President Trump's first EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, resigned effective July 6, 2018, amid a series of scandals. Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, started serving as acting administrator on July 9, 2018. Wheeler was confirmed as EPA Administrator on February 28, 2019.

National Numismatic Collection

The National Numismatic Collection is the national coin cabinet of the United States. The collection is part of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

Office of the United States Trade Representative

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is the United States government agency responsible for developing and recommending United States trade policy to the President of the United States, conducting trade negotiations at bilateral and multilateral levels, and coordinating trade policy within the government through the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) and Trade Policy Review Group (TPRG).

Established as the Office of the Special Trade Representative (STR) under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the USTR is part of the Executive Office of the President. With over 200 employees, the USTR has offices in Geneva, Switzerland, and Brussels, Belgium. The current U.S. Trade Representative is Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer, who was announced by President-Elect Donald J. Trump on January 3, 2017. Lighthizer was confirmed by the Senate on May 11, 2017, by a vote of 82–14.

United States Attorney General

The United States Attorney General (A.G.) is the chief lawyer of the federal government of the United States, head of the United States Department of Justice per 28 U.S.C. § 503, and oversees all governmental legal affairs.

Under the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution, the officeholder is nominated by the President of the United States and appointed with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. The U.S. Constitution provides that civil officers of the United States, which would include the U.S. Attorney General, may be impeached by Congress for treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors. The United States Attorney General may be removed at will by the President of the United States under the Supreme Court decision Myers v. United States, which found that executive branch officials may be removed without the consent of any entity. In cases of the federal death penalty, the power to seek the death penalty rests with the U.S. Attorney General.

The current Attorney General is William Barr.

United States Secretary of Agriculture

The United States Secretary of Agriculture is the head of the United States Department of Agriculture. The Secretary of Agriculture is former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Perdue took office on April 25, 2017 after being confirmed by the U.S Senate 87-11. The position carries similar responsibilities to those of agriculture ministers in other governments.

The department includes several organizations. The 297,000 mi2 (770,000 km2) of national forests and grasslands are managed by the United States Forest Service. The safety of food produced and sold in the United States is ensured by the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Food Stamp Program works with the states to provide food to low-income people. Advice for farmers and gardeners is provided by the United States Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.

United States Secretary of Commerce

The United States Secretary of Commerce (SecCom) is the head of the United States Department of Commerce. The Secretary is appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the United States Senate and serves in the President's Cabinet. The Secretary is concerned with promoting American businesses and industries; the Department states its mission to be "to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce".Until 1913 there was one Secretary of Commerce and Labor, uniting this department with the Department of Labor, which is now headed by a separate Secretary of Labor.The current Commerce Secretary is Wilbur Ross, who was nominated by President Donald Trump and approved by the Senate on February 28, 2017.

United States Secretary of Defense

The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) is the leader and chief executive officer of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the Armed Forces of the U.S. The Secretary of Defense's position of command and authority over the U.S. military is second only to that of the President and Congress, respectively. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in many other countries. The Secretary of Defense is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and is by custom a member of the Cabinet and by law a member of the National Security Council.Secretary of Defense is a statutory office, and the general provision in 10 U.S.C. § 113 provides that the Secretary of Defense has "authority, direction and control over the Department of Defense", and is further designated by the same statute as "the principal assistant to the President in all matters relating to the Department of Defense". To ensure civilian control of the military, no one may be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years of serving as a commissioned officer of a regular (i.e., non-reserve) component of an armed force.Subject only to the orders of the President, the Secretary of Defense is in the chain of command and exercises command and control, for both operational and administrative purposes, over all Department of Defense forces — the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force — as well as the U.S. Coast Guard when its command and control is transferred to the Department of Defense. Only the Secretary of Defense (or the president or Congress) can authorize the transfer of operational control of forces between the three Military Departments (the departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force) and the 10 Combatant Commands (Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, Northern Command, Southern Command, Cyber Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, Transportation Command). Because the Office of Secretary of Defense is vested with legal powers which exceed those of any commissioned officer, and is second only to the President in the military hierarchy, its incumbent has sometimes unofficially been referred to as a de facto "deputy commander-in-chief". (The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to the Secretary of Defense and the President, and while the Chairman may assist the Secretary and President in their command functions, the Chairman is not in the chain of command.)

The Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Treasury are generally regarded as heading the four most important departments.Since January 1, 2019, the Secretary of Defense has been Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan, serving in an acting capacity. His predecessor, Jim Mattis, resigned on December 20, 2018, effective February 2019, after failing to persuade President Donald Trump to reconsider a decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. A few days later, Trump announced that Mattis would leave at the end of December.

United States Secretary of Education

The United States Secretary of Education is the head of the United States Department of Education. The Secretary advises the President on federal policies, programs, and activities related to education in the United States. As a member of the President's Executive Cabinet, this Secretary is fifteenth in the line of succession to the presidency.

The current Education Secretary is Betsy DeVos, who was nominated by President Donald Trump and approved by the Senate on February 7, 2017.

United States Secretary of Energy

The United States Secretary of Energy is the head of the United States Department of Energy, a member of the Cabinet of the United States, and fifteenth in the presidential line of succession. The position was formed on October 1, 1977 with the creation of the Department of Energy when President Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Energy Organization Act. Originally the post focused on energy production and regulation. The emphasis soon shifted to developing technology for better and more efficient energy sources as well as energy education. After the end of the Cold War, the department's attention also turned toward radioactive waste disposal and maintenance of environmental quality. The current Secretary of Energy is Rick PerryFormer Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger was the first Secretary of Energy, who was a Republican nominated to the post by Democratic President Jimmy Carter, the only time a president has appointed someone of another party to the post. Schlesinger is also the only secretary to be dismissed from the post. Hazel O'Leary, Bill Clinton's first Secretary of Energy, was the first female and African-American holder. The first Hispanic to serve as Energy Secretary was Clinton's second, Federico Peña. Spencer Abraham became the first Arab American to hold the position on January 20, 2001, serving under the administration of George W. Bush. Steven Chu became the first Asian American to hold the position on January 20, 2009, serving under the administration of Barack Obama. He is also the longest-serving Secretary of Energy and the first individual to join the Cabinet having received a Nobel Prize.

United States Secretary of Health and Human Services

The United States Secretary of Health and Human Services is the head of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, concerned with health matters. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet. The office was formerly Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.

In 1980, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was renamed the Department of Health and Human Services, and its education functions and Rehabilitation Services Administration were transferred to the new Department of Education. Patricia Roberts Harris headed the department before and after it was renamed.Nominations to the office of Secretary of HHS are referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid, before confirmation is considered by the full United States Senate.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act the role of the Secretary has been greatly expanded.Donald Trump selected then-Congressman Tom Price to be the 23rd Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. Price was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 10, 2017 and resigned on September 29, 2017. Trump then named Don J. Wright, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, as acting Secretary until Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan was sworn in on October 10, 2017. On November 13, 2017, Trump nominated former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to fill the position permanently. Azar's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee took place on January 9, 2018, and on January 24, 2018, Azar was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 55 to 43. Azar was sworn in on January 29, 2018.

United States Secretary of Homeland Security

The United States Secretary of Homeland Security is the head of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the body concerned with protecting the U.S. and the safety of U.S. citizens. The secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet. The position was created by the Homeland Security Act following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The new department consisted primarily of components transferred from other cabinet departments because of their role in homeland security, such as the Coast Guard, the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (which includes the Border Patrol), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which includes Homeland Security Investigations), the Secret Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It did not include either the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Central Intelligence Agency.Kevin McAleenan is the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, upon the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen.

United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

The United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (or HUD Secretary) is the head of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, a member of the President's Cabinet, and thirteenth in the Presidential line of succession. The post was created with the formation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on September 9, 1965, by President Lyndon B. Johnson's signing of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act (Pub.L. 89–174) into law. The department's mission is "to increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination."The current HUD secretary is Ben Carson, who was nominated by President Donald Trump and approved by the Senate on March 2, 2017.

United States Secretary of Labor

The United States Secretary of Labor is a member of the Cabinet of the United States, and as the head of the United States Department of Labor, controls the department, and enforces and suggests laws involving unions, the workplace, and all other issues involving any form of business-person controversies.

Formerly, there was a U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor, who led this department along with the U.S. Department of Commerce as one department. Since the two departments split in 1913, the Department of Commerce is now headed by a separate U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Alexander Acosta has been Secretary of Labor since April 28, 2017.

United States Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is a senior official of the federal government of the United States of America, and as head of the United States Department of State, is principally concerned with foreign policy and is considered to be the U.S. government's equivalent of a Minister for Foreign Affairs.The Secretary of State is nominated by the President of the United States and, following a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is confirmed by the United States Senate. The Secretary of State, along with the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, and Attorney General, are generally regarded as the four most important Cabinet members because of the importance of their respective departments. Secretary of State is a Level I position in the Executive Schedule and thus earns the salary prescribed for that level (currently $210,700).The current Secretary of State is Mike Pompeo, who previously served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo replaced Rex Tillerson whom President Trump dismissed on March 13, 2018. Tillerson's last day at the State Department was March 31, 2018. Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate on April 26, 2018 and was sworn in later that day.

United States Secretary of Transportation

The United States Secretary of Transportation is the head of the United States Department of Transportation, a member of the President's Cabinet, and fourteenth in the Presidential Line of Succession. The post was created with the formation of the Department of Transportation on October 15, 1966, by President Lyndon B. Johnson's signing of the Department of Transportation Act. The department's mission is "to develop and coordinate policies that will provide an efficient and economical national transportation system, with due regard for need, the environment, and the national defense." The Secretary of Transportation oversees eleven agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In April 2008, Mary Peters launched the official blog of the Secretary of Transportation called The Fast Lane.The first Secretary of Transportation was Alan Stephenson Boyd, nominated to the post by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson. Ronald Reagan's second Secretary of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole, was the first female holder, and Mary Peters was the second. Gerald Ford's nominee William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr. was the first African American to serve as Transportation Secretary, and Federico Peña, serving under Bill Clinton, was the first Hispanic to hold the position, subsequently becoming Secretary of Energy. Japanese-American Norman Mineta, who had previously been Secretary of Commerce, is the longest-serving Secretary, holding the post for over five and a half years, and Andrew Card is the shortest-serving Secretary, serving only eleven months. Neil Goldschmidt was the youngest secretary, taking office at age thirty nine, while Norman Mineta was the oldest, retiring at age seventy four. On January 23, 2009, the sixteenth secretary Ray LaHood took office, serving under the administration of Democrat Barack Obama; he had previously been a Republican Congressman from Illinois for fourteen years. The salary of the Secretary of Transportation is $199,700.Anthony Foxx was the 17th US Secretary of Transportation from 2013-2017, when Barack Obama was President. Elaine Chao, who served as Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush, was nominated by Donald Trump on November 29, 2016. On January 31, 2017, the Senate confirmed her appointment by a vote of 93-6.

United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs

The United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs is the head of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the department concerned with veterans' benefits, health care, and national veterans' memorials and cemeteries. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and second to last at sixteenth in the line of succession to the presidency (the position was last until the addition of the United States Department of Homeland Security in 2006). Until the appointment of David Shulkin in 2017, all appointees and acting appointees to the post were United States military veterans, but that is not a requirement to fill the position.

When the post of Secretary is vacant, the United States Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs or any other person designated by the President serves as Acting Secretary until the President nominates and the United States Senate confirms a new Secretary.

United States Secretary of War

The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War", had been appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation between 1781 and 1789. Benjamin Lincoln and later Henry Knox held the position. When Washington was inaugurated as the first president under the Constitution, he appointed Knox to continue serving as Secretary of War.

The Secretary of War was the head of the War Department. At first, he was responsible for all military affairs, including naval affairs. In 1798, the Secretary of the Navy was created by statute, and the scope of responsibility for this office was reduced to the affairs of the United States Army. From 1886 onward, the Secretary of War was in the line of succession to the presidency, after the Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tem of the Senate and the Secretary of State.

In 1947, with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947, the Secretary of War was replaced by the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Air Force, which, along with the Secretary of the Navy, have since 1949 been non-Cabinet subordinates under the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of the Army's office is generally considered the direct successor to the Secretary of War's office although the Secretary of Defense took the Secretary of War's position in the Cabinet, and the line of succession to the presidency.

United States Secretary of the Interior

The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior in the United States is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources; it oversees such agencies as the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, and the National Park Service. The Secretary also serves on and appoints the private citizens on the National Park Foundation board. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet. The U.S. Department of the Interior should not be confused with the Ministries of the Interior as used in many other countries. Ministries of the Interior in these other countries correspond primarily to the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. Cabinet and secondarily to the Department of Justice.

Because the policies and activities of the Department of the Interior and many of its agencies have a substantial impact in the Western United States, the Secretary of the Interior has typically come from a western state; only two of the individuals to hold the office since 1949 have not been from a state lying west of the Mississippi River. The current Interior Secretary is David Bernhardt, who held the office in an acting capacity until April 2019. He succeeded Ryan Zinke who resigned on January 2, 2019.

United States Secretary of the Treasury

The Secretary of the Treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also included several federal law enforcement agencies. This position in the federal government of the United States is analogous to the Minister of Finance in many other countries. The Secretary of the Treasury is a member of the President's Cabinet, and is nominated by the President of the United States. Nominees for Secretary of the Treasury undergo a confirmation hearing before the United States Senate Committee on Finance before being voted on by the United States Senate.

The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Defense are generally regarded as the four most important cabinet officials because of the importance of their departments. The Secretary of the Treasury is a non-statutory member of the U.S. National Security Council and fifth in the United States presidential line of succession.

Cabinet
Office
(Constituting instrument)
Incumbent Took office

Vice President
(Constitution, Art. II, Sec. I)

Mike Pence
January 20, 2017

Secretary of State
(22 U.S.C. § 2651a)

Mike Pompeo
April 26, 2018

Secretary of the Treasury
(31 U.S.C. § 301)

Steven Mnuchin
February 13, 2017

Secretary of Defense
(10 U.S.C. § 113)

Patrick M. Shanahan
January 1, 2019
Acting

Attorney General
(28 U.S.C. § 503)
William Barr (cropped)
William Barr
February 14, 2019

Secretary of the Interior
(43 U.S.C. § 1451)

David Bernhardt
January 2, 2019[n 1]

Secretary of Agriculture
(7 U.S.C. § 2202)

Sonny Perdue
April 25, 2017

Secretary of Commerce
(15 U.S.C. § 1501)

Wilbur Ross
February 28, 2017

Secretary of Labor
(29 U.S.C. § 551)

Alex Acosta
April 28, 2017

Secretary of Health and Human Services
(Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953,
67 Stat. 631 and 42 U.S.C. § 3501)

Alex Azar
January 29, 2018

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
(42 U.S.C. § 3532)

Ben Carson
March 2, 2017

Secretary of Transportation
(49 U.S.C. § 102)

Elaine Chao
January 31, 2017

Secretary of Energy
(42 U.S.C. § 7131)

Rick Perry
March 2, 2017

Secretary of Education
(20 U.S.C. § 3411)

Betsy DeVos
February 7, 2017

Secretary of Veterans Affairs
(38 U.S.C. § 303)

Robert Wilkie
July 30, 2018

Secretary of Homeland Security
(6 U.S.C. § 112)
Kevin McAleenan official photo (cropped)
Kevin McAleenan
April 11, 2019
Acting
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