Energy Secretary Rick Perry Named Designated Survivor

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is the SOTU ‘designated survivor.’ The options were limited due to Cabinet vacancies.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is the SOTU ‘designated survivor.’ The options were limited due to Cabinet vacancies.

The practice of designating a survivor isn't laid out in the Constitution, but the presidential line of succession is covered in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act.

As soon as the news that Rick Perry is the designated survivor was announced, people took to Twitter to remember the moment the Energy Secretary and former presidential candidate appeared on the reality show Dancing with the Stars.

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. He made two unsuccessful bids for the Republican nomination for president, in 2012 and 2016.

Trump didn't have as many options as usual this year. Only Senate-confirmed secretaries (and natural-born citizens) in the line of succession to the presidency can assume control of government in a crisis.

"It's crystal clear that to be in that line of succession, the Cabinet officer must be Senate-confirmed", said Nina Mendelson, a professor of law at the University of MI. "A Cabinet officer who is merely "acting" is legally barred from assuming presidential authority".

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

Former governor of Texas Rick Perry has been named designated survivor for the State of the Union.

The 1947 law also notes that the line of succession would only apply to those who would be constitutionally eligible to serve as president.

One cabinet member, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is ineligible under the constitution because she was not a US citizen at birth. With members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, the cabinet and joint chiefs of staff all in one room, one person is hidden away in a secure location to ensure that government can continue if the worst were to happen. Once the president has returned to the White House, the designated survivor is relieved of his or her duties.

The macabre but important ritual keeps one cabinet-level official out of sight on State of the Union night and out of harm's way. He would see whether any Cabinet official was already traveling around the speech and seeing if that secretary could get to a secure location wherever they were.

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