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United States of America
The Cabinet of the United States is part of the executive branch of the U.S. government that normally acts as an advisory body to the President of the United States. It is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the U.S. government serving under the President. Among those are the Vice President and the heads of the federal executive departments, all of whom are by federal law (3 U.S.C. § 19) in the line of succession to the Presidency and have duties under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. 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 and the Ambassador to the United Nations as members of the Cabinet, although this is a symbolic status marker and does not, apart from attending Cabinet meetings, confer any additional powers.
There is no explicit reference to a "Cabinet" in the United States Constitution, the United States Code, or the Code of Federal Regulations. In the Constitution, the President is authorized (but not compelled) 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." The Constitution does not provide for an explicit forum where the principal officers' opinions can be obtained less formally, without writing, such as a formal Cabinet.
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 six members: himself, the Vice President John Adams, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox and Attorney General Edmund Randolph.
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 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.
The term "principal Officer in each of the executive Departments" is mentioned in the Opinion Clause (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) and the term "Heads of Departments" is mentioned in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution. The term "principal officers of the executive departments" is also mentioned in the Twenty-fifth Amendment, Section 4, the executive departments being listed in 5 U.S.C. § 101. Although there are occasional references to "Cabinet-level officers," which when viewed in their context do refer to these "principal officers" and "heads of departments," the terms "principal officers" and "heads of departments" are not necessarily synonymous with "Cabinet" members.
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 Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, an incoming 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, or sometimes lower-level appointees of the incoming administration.
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 3⁄5 supermajority to further consideration). If approved, they receive their commission scroll, are sworn in and then begin their duties.
|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|
|Ambassador to the United Nations||Foreign Relations Committee|
|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|
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. 21 positions, including the heads of the executive departments and others, receiving Level I pay are listed in 5 U.S.C. § 5312, and those 46 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.
The annual salary of the Vice President is $235,300. The salary level was set by the Government Salary Reform Act of 1989, which also provides an automatic cost of living adjustment for federal employees. The Vice President does not automatically receive a pension based on that office, but instead receives the same pension as other members of Congress based on his ex officio position as President of the Senate.
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.
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. 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.
(Constitution, Art. II, Sec. I)
|January 20, 2017|
Secretary of State
(22 U.S.C. § 2651a)
|February 1, 2017|
Secretary of the Treasury
(31 U.S.C. § 301)
|February 13, 2017|
Secretary of Defense
(10 U.S.C. § 113)
|January 20, 2017|
(28 U.S.C. § 503)
|February 9, 2017|
Secretary of the Interior
(43 U.S.C. § 1451)
|March 1, 2017|
Secretary of Agriculture
(7 U.S.C. § 2202)
|April 25, 2017|
Secretary of Commerce
(15 U.S.C. § 1501)
|February 28, 2017|
Secretary of Labor
(29 U.S.C. § 551)
|April 28, 2017|
Secretary of Health and Human Services
(Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953,
67 Stat. 631 and 42 U.S.C. § 3501)
|October 10, 2017
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
(42 U.S.C. § 3532)
|March 2, 2017|
Secretary of Transportation
(49 U.S.C. § 102)
|January 31, 2017|
Secretary of Energy
(42 U.S.C. § 7131)
|March 2, 2017|
Secretary of Education
(20 U.S.C. § 3411)
|February 7, 2017|
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
(38 U.S.C. § 303)
|February 14, 2017|
Secretary of Homeland Security
(6 U.S.C. § 112)
|December 6, 2017|
The following officials hold positions that are considered to be Cabinet-level positions. Cabinet-level officials attend Cabinet meetings, but are not official Cabinet Members:
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)
|July 31, 2017|
(19 U.S.C. § 2171)
|May 15, 2017|
Director of National Intelligence
(50 U.S.C. § 3023)
|March 16, 2017|
Ambassador to the United Nations
(22 U.S.C. § 287, Executive Order 9844, Executive Order 10108)
|January 27, 2017|
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
(31 U.S.C. § 502, Executive Order 11541,
Executive Order 11609, Executive Order 11717)
|February 16, 2017|
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
(50 U.S.C. § 3036)
|January 23, 2017|
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
(5 U.S.C. § 906, Executive Order 11735)
|February 17, 2017|
Administrator of the Small Business Administration
(15 U.S.C. § 633)
|February 14, 2017|
James K. Polk and his Cabinet in 1846. The first Cabinet to be photographed.
President Theodore Roosevelt's Cabinet
President William H. Taft's second cabinet, 1912
(photographed by Harris & Ewing photo studio)
The Nixon Cabinet, 1969
The Clinton Cabinet, in 1993.
The Bush Cabinet (February 2008).
The first Obama Cabinet (September 2009).
The Trump Cabinet (March 13, 2017)
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 https://www.webcitation.org/5ny13zsIv?url=http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID%3Dhsnews-000002988269%26cpage%3D1
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.
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.
It is no secret that Mr. Deutch initially turned down the intelligence position, and was rewarded for taking it by getting Cabinet rank.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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