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Cabinet of the United States

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Title: Cabinet of the United States  
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Subject: List of United States Cabinets, President of the United States, Denis McDonough, Amos Kendall, John C. Calhoun
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Cabinet of the United States

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United States

The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the 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.


  • In federal law and the Constitution 1
  • Salary 2
  • Meetings 3
  • Current Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials 4
    • Cabinet 4.1
    • Cabinet-level officers 4.2
  • Former Executive and cabinet-level departments 5
  • Renamed heads of the executive departments 6
  • Other positions no longer of cabinet rank 7
  • Proposed Cabinet departments 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

In federal law and the Constitution

Abraham Lincoln met with his Cabinet for the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation draft, (July 26, 1862).
The Nixon Cabinet, 1969
President Gerald R. Ford meeting with his cabinet (June 25, 1976)
President Jimmy Carter's cabinet meeting (February 13, 1978)
President Reagan and his cabinet (September 11, 1986)
President George H. W. Bush and his cabinet in the Cabinet Room (September 5, 1989).
The Clinton Cabinet, in 1993.
The Bush Cabinet (February 2008).
The first Obama Cabinet (September 2009).

There is no explicit definition of the term "Cabinet" in either the United States Constitution, the United States Code, or the Code of Federal Regulations.

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 $199,700 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.

Current Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials

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:
(statutory basis)
Incumbent Term began

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

Attorney General
(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

Cabinet-level officers

Office Incumbent Term began

Vice President

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

Trade Representative

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

Former Executive and cabinet-level departments

Renamed heads of the executive departments

Other positions no longer of cabinet rank

Proposed Cabinet departments

  • U.S. Department of Commerce and Industry (proposed by business interests in the 1880s)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture and Labor (proposed by members of U.S. Congress)
  • U.S. Department of Peace (proposed by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Senator Matthew Neely, and other members of the U.S. Congress)[9]
  • U.S. Department of Public Welfare (proposed by President Warren Harding)
  • U.S. Department of Natural Resources (proposed by former President Herbert Hoover, the Eisenhower administration, President Richard Nixon and the GOP national platform in 1976)
  • U.S. Department of Social Welfare (proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt)
  • U.S. Department of Public Works (proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt)
  • U.S. Department of Conservation (proposed by Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes)
  • U.S. Department of Urban Affairs (proposed by President John F. Kennedy)
  • U.S. Department of Business and Labor (proposed by President Lyndon Johnson)
  • U.S. Department of Community Development (proposed by President Richard Nixon; to be chiefly concerned with infrastructure)
  • U.S. Department of Human Resources (proposed by President Richard Nixon; essentially a revised Department of Health, Education, and Welfare)
  • U.S. Department of Economic Development (proposed by President Richard Nixon; essentially a consolidation of the Departments of Commerce and Labor)
  • U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (proposed by Senator Arlen Specter)
  • U.S. Department of International Trade (proposed by the Heritage Foundation)
  • U.S. Department of Global Development (proposed by the Center for Global Development and others)
  • U.S. Department of Culture (proposed by Quincy Jones)[10]
  • U.S. Department of Business (proposed by President Barack Obama)[11]
  • U.S. Department of Intelligence (proposed by former DNI Mike McConnell)[12]
  • U.S. Department of Natural Resources (proposed by Bill Daley as a consolidation of the Departments of the Interior, Energy, and the EPA.)[13]

See also



  1. ^ The office of Secretary of Foreign Affairs existed under the Articles of Confederation from October 20, 1781 to March 3, 1789, the day before the Constitution came into force.
  2. ^ "President Clinton Raises FEMA Director to Cabinet Status" (Press release). Federal Emergency Management Agency. February 26, 1996. Retrieved May 22, 2009. 
  3. ^ Fowler, Daniel (November 19, 2008). "Emergency Managers Make It Official: They Want FEMA Out of DHS". CQ Politics. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 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
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Schoenfeld, Gabriel (July–August 2007). "The CIA Follies (Cont'd.)". Commentary. Retrieved May 22, 2009. 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. 
  6. ^ Sciolino, Elaine (September 29, 1996). "C.I.A. Chief Charts His Own Course". New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2009. It is no secret that Mr. Deutch initially turned down the intelligence position, and was rewarded for taking it by getting cabinet rank. 
  7. ^ Clinton, Bill (July 1, 1993). "Remarks by the President and Lee Brown, Director of Office of National Drug Control Policy". White House. Retrieved May 22, 2009. 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. 
  8. ^ Cook, Dave (March 11, 2009). "New drug czar gets lower rank, promise of higher visibility". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved March 16, 2009. 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. 
  9. ^ "History of Legislation to Create a Dept. of Peace". 
  10. ^ Clarke, Jr., John (January 16, 2009). "Quincy Jones Lobbies Obama for Secretary of Culture Post".  
  11. ^ "Obama Suggests ‘Secretary of Business’ in a 2nd Term - Washington Wire - WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. 
  12. ^ J. Stapelton Roy (June 29, 2007). "A Conversation with Michael McConnell".  
  13. ^ Thrush, Glenn (November 8, 2013). "Locked in the Cabinet".  

Further reading

  • Bennett, Anthony. The American President's Cabinet. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1996. ISBN 0-333-60691-4. A study of the U.S. Cabinet from Kennedy to Clinton.
  • Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO; three volumes, 2000; reprint, New York: Greyhouse Publishing; two volumes, 2010). A history of the United States and Confederate States cabinets, their secretaries, and their departments.
  • Rudalevige, Andrew. "The President and the Cabinet", in Michael Nelson, ed., The Presidency and the Political System, 8th ed. (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2006).

External links

  • Official site of the President's Cabinet
  • U.S. Senate's list of cabinet members who did not attend the State of the Union Address (since 1984)
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