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politics and government of
the United States
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, who are generally the heads of the federal executive departments. The existence of the Cabinet dates back to the first President of the United States, George Washington, who appointed a Cabinet of four persons: Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson; Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton; Secretary of War Henry Knox; and Attorney General Edmund Randolph to advise him and to assist him in carrying out his duties.
All Cabinet members are nominated by the President and then presented to the Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority. If they are approved, they are sworn in and then begin their duties. Aside from the Attorney General, and the Postmaster General when it was a Cabinet office, they all receive the title of Secretary. Members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the President, which means that the President may dismiss them or reappoint them (to other posts) at will.
The term "principal Officer in each of the executive Departments" is mentioned in Article II, Section 2, Clause 1, and the term "Heads of Departments" is mentioned in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2. The term "principal officers of the executive departments" is also mentioned in the Twenty-fifth Amendment, Section 4. The executive departments are 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 5 U.S.C. § 3110, federal officials are prohibited from appointing their immediate family members to certain governmental positions, including those in the Cabinet. Passed in 1967, this law was a congressional response in delayed dismay about John F. Kennedy's appointment of his brother Robert F. Kennedy to the office of the Attorney General.
Cabinet officials receive an amount of pay determined by Title 5 of the United States Code. According to 5 U.S.C. § 5312, Cabinet level positions qualify for Level I pay, which was set at an annual salary of $1000 in 2011. Some Cabinet-level officials, including the Vice President and the White House Chief of Staff, have their salaries determined differently.
For the first 175 years of its existence, the Cabinet as a body would meet frequently, sometimes several times a week. These were so important that they continued to be held in the absence of President Woodrow Wilson while he was away in France during the Versailles conference, leading to the inclusion of the Vice President for the first time. During the administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, the frequency of meeting declined, and by the end of the latter's administration, months would pass between sessions.
An expanded White House staff has taken over many of the functions of the Cabinet as a body.
The individuals listed below were nominated by President Barack Obama to form his Cabinet and were confirmed by the United States Senate on the date noted. An elected Vice President does not require Senate confirmation, nor does the White House Chief of Staff, which is an appointed staff position of the Executive Office of the President.
The Cabinet officers are listed in rank order according to the United States presidential line of succession:
Secretary of State
(22 U.S.C. § 2651a)
|February 1, 2013|
Secretary of the Treasury
(31 U.S.C. § 301)
|February 28, 2013|
Secretary of Defense
(10 U.S.C. § 113)
|February 27, 2013|
(28 U.S.C. § 503)
|February 2, 2009|
Secretary of the Interior
(43 U.S.C. § 1451)
|April 12, 2013|
Secretary of Agriculture
(7 U.S.C. § 2202)
|January 20, 2009|
Secretary of Commerce
(15 U.S.C. § 1501)
|June 26, 2013|
Secretary of Labor
(29 U.S.C. § 551)
|July 23, 2013|
Secretary of Health and Human Services
(Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953, 67 Stat. 631 and 42 U.S.C. § 3501)
|June 9, 2014|
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
(42 U.S.C. § 3532)
|July 28, 2014|
Secretary of Transportation
(49 U.S.C. § 102)
|July 2, 2013|
Secretary of Energy
(42 U.S.C. § 7131)
|May 21, 2013|
Secretary of Education
(20 U.S.C. § 3411)
|January 20, 2009|
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
(38 U.S.C. § 303)
|July 30, 2014|
Secretary of Homeland Security
(6 U.S.C. § 112)
|December 23, 2013|
|January 20, 2009|
White House Chief of Staff
|January 25, 2013|
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
|July 28, 2014|
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
|July 18, 2013|
|June 21, 2013|
Ambassador to the United Nations
|August 2, 2013|
Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
|August 2, 2013|
Administrator of the Small Business Administration
|April 7, 2014|
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 by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/5ny13zsIv)
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.
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