United States Cabinet

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The United States Cabinet refers to the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the United States federal government.

The first Cabinet formed by President George Washington, consisted of four people; Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson; Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton; Secretary of War, Henry Knox; and Attorney General, Edmund Randolph.


All members of the Cabinet are nominated by the President. The United States Senate then holds a vote to either confirm or reject any nominees. This process comes from Article II, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which says the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for..." [1]

The president does have the option of making a "recess appointment" when the Senate is in between sessions, or which in recess during a session. An appointment of this type will expire at the end of the following congressional session.


Cabinet positions customarily end when the president who nominated them steps down from office. Cabinet members can be fired by the President at any time. In some cases members of the cabinet will tender their resignation if controversy arises (i.e. Donald Rumsfeld).


The current cabinet and the order of Presidential succession after the Vice President, Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate is as follows [2]:

Office Incumbent Previous
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Donald Rumsfeld
Attorney General Eric Holder Alberto Gonzales
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar Dirk A. Kempthorne
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Michael O. Johanns
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke Carlos M. Gutierrez*
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Elaine Chao*
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius Michael O. Leavitt
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan Alphonso R. Jackson
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Mary E. Peters
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu Samuel W. Bodman
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Margaret Spellings
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki Jim Nicholson
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano Michael Chertoff

* The order of succession will skip anyone who is ineligible to hold the office of the President. The former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao are not natural-born citizens, and therefore were ineligible.

There are also officers of the Cabinet who do not have the title Secretary. They are:

Office Incumbent Previous
Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden Dick Cheney
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel Joshua B. Bolten
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa P. Jackson Stephen L. Johnson
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter R. Orszag Robert J. Portman
Director of the National Drug Control Policy Edward H. Jurith John P. Walters
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk Susan Schwab


  1. Nominations
  2. President Bush's Cabinet