Presidential Line of Succession
The Presidential Line of Succession charts who is to succeed to the presidency in the event of the death or removal of the incumbent President. There are currently 16 individuals in the line of succession, it includes the Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Senate and then the Presidential Cabinet.
Events have happened where the Line of Succession was used: various Vice Presidents have risen to the Presidency upon the death or assassination of the incumbent. Most recently, Gerald Ford assumed the presidency upon the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, and Lyndon Johnson upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.
In the event of an important occasion at which many senior government officials would be present (such as the Presidential Inauguration or State of the Union address), one particular senior member is chosen by the President to stay at the White House, or another location, in the event of an attack that would kill those present at the event. This individual is called the Designated Survivor.
The Presidential Line of Succession as of 2015 is as follows:
- 1. Vice President of the United States (Joseph Biden)
- 2. Speaker of the House of Representatives (John Boehner)
- 3. President pro tempore of the Senate (Orrin Hatch)
- 4. Secretary of State (John Kerry)
- 5. Secretary of the Treasury (Jacob Lew)
- 6. Secretary of Defense (Ashton Carter)
- 7. Attorney General (Loretta Lynch)
- 8. Secretary of the Interior (the current secretary, Sally Jewell, is a naturalized citizen and therefore not eligible to be president)
- 9. Secretary of Agriculture (Thomas Vilsack)
- 10 Secretary of Commerce (Penny Pritzker)
- 11 Secretary of Labor (Thomas Perez)
- 12. Secretary of Health and Human Services (Sylvia Mathews Burwell)
- 13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Julian Castro)
- 14. Secretary of Transportation (Anthony Foxx)
- 15. Secretary of Energy (Ernest Moniz)
- 16. Secretary of Education (Arne Duncan)
- 17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Robert McDonald)
- 18. Secretary of Homeland Security (Jeh Johnson)