Cabinet

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The Cabinet officially represents the President's closest advisors, although modern presidents often rely on non-Cabinet counselors, advisors, and staff to a greater degree, including the National Security Advisor. Cabinet members are leaders of the various departments of the Executive Branch in addition to the Vice President, and some are part of the line of Presidential succession.

Contents

Current cabinet

  1. Secretary of State - Condoleezza Rice
  2. Secretary of the Treasury - Henry M. Paulson Jr.
  3. Secretary of Defense - Robert M. Gates
  4. Attorney General - Michael B. Mukasey
  5. Secretary of the Interior - Gale Norton
  6. Secretary of Agriculture - Edward Schafer
  7. Secretary of Commerce - Carlos Gutierrez
  8. Secretary of Labor - Elaine Chao
  9. Secretary of Health and Human Services - Mike Leavitt
  10. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - Alphonso Jackson
  11. Secretary of Transportation - Mary Peters
  12. Secretary of Energy - Samuel W. Bodman
  13. Secretary of Education - Margaret Spellings
  14. Secretary of Veterans Affairs - James Nicholson
  15. Secretary of Homeland Security - Michael Chertoff

Cabinet-level administration offices

The following positions are not part of the cabinet, but have cabinet-level rank, meaning that these individuals are permitted to attend cabinet meetings:

Of course, not all cabinet positions are created equal. The Attorney General and the Secretaries of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and Treasury, all hold high profile positions and are household names known for their contributions to administration policies. Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Transportation and Veterans affairs often come and go without anyone noticing other than inside the beltway bureaucracy watchers and policy wonks in the area of expertise in question. Non-department heads like the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the National Security Advisor, and the head of the Council of Economic Advisors, often have more influence over policy than lower profile cabinet secretaries. For example, Karl Rove, the recently retired, but highly influential political advisor to the President, couldn't have been seen on an organizational chart of the United States government without a microscope, despite the fact that he was probably one of the five or ten most powerful people in the administration today.

Secretary selection process

The 15 Cabinet Secretaries are chosen by the President, and approved by the United States Senate by simple majority vote. Cabinet Secretaries are often selected from past and current American governors, U.S. Senators, U.S. House representatives, and other political office holders. Because of the strong system of separation of powers, however, no cabinet member can simultaneously hold an office in the legislative or judicial branches of government while serving in cabinet, nor can they hold office in state government. Private citizens such as businessmen or former military officials are also common cabinet choices.

Unlike the parliamentary system of government, cabinet members are rarely "shuffled" and it is rare for a Secretary to be moved from one department to another. Some exceptions apply. For example, current Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has previously served as Secretary of Commerce. A slightly more common occurance is for popular cabinet secretaries to be "brought back" to serve a second term under a new president. For example current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld held his position once before, under President Gerald Ford from 1975-1977.

The main interaction that cabinet members have with the legislative branch are regular testimonials before Congressional committees to justify their actions, and co-ordinate executive and legislative policy in their respective fields of jurisdiction.

Cabinet members can be fired by the President, or impeached and removed from office by Congress. Customarily, a few Cabinet members may resign before the beginning of a second Presidential term. Usually all Cabinet members resign shortly after the inauguration of a new President. Rarely, a popular or especially dedicated Cabinet member may be asked to stay, sometimes even serving under a new President of another party.

George W. Bush Administration Status Report

Two cabinet members left the administration of George W. Bush prior to his election in 2004. They were Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil who was replaced by John Snow in January of 2003, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez who was replaced in January of 2004 when he left the administration to run for U.S. Senate in Florida.

Nine more cabinet members have announced their resignations since the 2004 election. They are Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Education Secretary Rod Paige, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (who was replaced by Michael Chertoff after the disastrous nomination of former NYC police chief Bernard Kerik was withdrawn) and Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi (who was replaced by Vatican Ambassador Jim Nicholson). The remaining members of the Bush cabinet are likely to remain at their jobs in the near term future.

Alberto Gonzales, the White House Counsel, former Enron counsel, and one of the authors of the Torture Memos has been nominated to replace Ashcroft as Attorney General. Fromer National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was been nominated then replaced Colin Powell as Secretary of State.

Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor, replaced Rice in her post. He is a prime suspect of the Plame outing, and the person who took the blame for the "yellowcake" reference in Bush's 2003 SOTU address that later proved to be based on forgeries.

Mike Leavitt, former Governor of Utah, who took office as the cabinet level EPA administrator in November, 2003 was nominated then replaced Tommy Thompson as Heatlh and Human Services Secretary. Leavitt has a reputation for being a pro-business pragmatist.


Related articles

External links

  • The President's Cabinet - Official White House website
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