Home Top News ‘Designated survivor’ chosen to protect line of succession during Biden’s SOTU

‘Designated survivor’ chosen to protect line of succession during Biden’s SOTU


During every State of the Union, one member of the president’s cabinet is ushered away from Washington, D.C. and labeled the ‘designated survivor’ with the intention of ensuring that someone in line for presidential succession is kept safe in the event of a catastrophic event during the speech.

The precaution, which dates back to the Cold War, is ‘taken to provide continuity in the presidency in the event a catastrophe were to result in the death or disablement of the President, the Vice President, and other officials in the line of presidential succession gathered in the House chamber,’ according to a Congressional Research Service report earlier this year.

The identity of the designated survivor is kept under wraps until around the time the speech begins, but last year’s role was filled by former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. 

‘I didn’t even know where I was going,’ Walsh told the Washington Post. ‘God forbid something were to happen, but there’s a quick second you think about that. It’s something that will be in history. I was the first labor secretary in the history of the United States to be designated.’

In 2022, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was the designated survivor, and before that, in 2021, there was no official designated survivor due to cabinet members not being present for the address as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The rules state that the designated survivor must be a natural-born U.S. Citizen, at least 35 years old, and he or she must have been a resident of the United States for the past 14 years.

According to the National Constitution Center, the procedure originated in the 1950s, but the government did not start identifying the designated survivor by name until 1981.

‘Since then, a designated survivor has been used for the State of the Union, inaugurations, and presidential speeches to joint sessions of Congress,’ the National Constitution Center explained. ‘It is believed the President makes the decision of which Cabinet member is absent with permission from these events.’

Biden’s speech is set to begin at 9 P.M. ET on Thursday night in the House chamber of the Capitol Building.

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