SOTU 'designated survivor' choice complicated by Trump's several 'acting' secretaries

Rick Perry

Last year Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was selected for the role, which is only open to Senate-confirmed secretaries who are also natural-born USA citizens.

The person chosen as designated survivor - generally a cabinet member - must be in the line of presidential succession as laid out by the Presidential Succession Act and the following acts that amended the original.

Perry, who used to serve as the governor of Texas, became the head of the Department of Energy in March 2017.

Several Cabinet members have left their positions in recent months, and Trump has not yet filled those vacancies with permanent replacements.

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Only U.S. citizens and Cabinet members confirmed by the Senate can serve in the role, according to the Presidential Succession Act.

Various Supreme Court opinions - one from 1893 and another from 1994 - allowed for lower-level administration officials to bypass confirmation for a different government position because they had already been confirmed to a job with similar responsibilities, Mendelson said.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is the designated survivor for the 2019 State of the Union address.

By tradition, one Cabinet secretary is closeted away at a secure, undisclosed location to ensure continuity of government in case disaster strikes while government leaders attend the speech. They would then be third and fourth in the line of succession to the presidency, after the vice president. Once the president has returned to the White House, the designated survivor is relieved of his or her duties. Follow the 9/11 attacks, Congress devised its own version of the designated survivor.



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