Cabinet 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, George Washington, who appointed a Cabinet of five people to advise him and to assist him in carrying out his duties (his cabinet also included Vice President John Adams):

All Cabinet members are nominated by the President and then presented to the Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority (although, before use of the nuclear option during the 113th US Congress, they could have been blocked by filibuster, requiring cloture to be invoked by 3/5 supermajority to further consideration). If 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; the President may dismiss or reappoint them (to other posts) at will.

In federal law and the Constitution

There is no explicit definition of the term "Cabinet" in the United States Constitution, the United States Code, or the Code of Federal Regulations. The name comes from a 17th-century usage for a private room where advisors would meet, which developed into the modern sense of a council of advisors.[1]

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 the 1967 Federal Anti-Nepotism statute, federal officials are prohibited from appointing their immediate family members to certain governmental positions, including those in the Cabinet.[2]


Main article: Executive Schedule

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 $205,700 in 2016.[3]

Current Cabinet and Cabinet-rank 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.

These appointments will expire with the administration of President Obama, at which time they will be succeeded by the Cabinet of Donald Trump.


The current Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments, listed here according to their order of succession to the Presidency.[4] Note that the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate follow the Vice President and precede the Secretary of State in the order of succession, but both are in the legislative branch and are not part of the Cabinet.

(statutory basis)
Incumbent Term began

Vice President
(Constitution, Art. II, Sec. I)

January 20, 2009
(without Senate confirmation)

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 17, 2015

Attorney General
(28 U.S.C. § 503)

April 27, 2015

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 1, 2016

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 officials

The following officials have positions that are considered to be of Cabinet level, but which are not part of the Cabinet:

Cabinet-level Officials
Office Incumbent Term began

White House Chief of Staff
(Pub.L. 76–19, 53 Stat. 561, enacted April 3, 1939, Executive Order 8248, Executive Order 10452, Executive Order 12608)

January 25, 2013
(without Senate confirmation)

Director of the Office of Management and Budget
(3 U.S.C. § 301, Executive Order 11541, Executive Order 11609, Executive Order 11717)

July 28, 2014

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
(5 U.S.C. § 906, Executive Order 11735)

July 18, 2013

Trade Representative
(19 U.S.C. § 2171)

June 21, 2013

Ambassador to the United Nations
(Executive Order 9844, Executive Order 10108)

August 2, 2013

Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
(15 U.S.C. § 1023)

August 2, 2013

Administrator of the Small Business Administration
(15 U.S.C. § 633)
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


See also

For navigational boxes containing the names of members of each President's Cabinet, see:


  1. Harper, Douglas. "cabinet (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on December 18, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2015. Meaning "case for safe-keeping" (of papers, liquor, etc.) is from 1540s, gradually shading to mean a piece of furniture that does this. Sense of "private room where advisors meet" (c.1600) led to modern political meaning (1640s); perhaps originally short for Cabinet council (1630s); compare board (n.1) in its evolution from place where some group meets to the word for the group that meets there.
  2. Wulwick, Richard P.; Macchiarola, Frank J. (1995). "Congressional Interference With The President's Power To Appoint" (PDF). Stetson Law Review. XXIV: 625–652.
  3. Obama, Barack (2014-12-19). "ADJUSTMENTS OF CERTAIN RATES OF PAY" (PDF). EXECUTIVE ORDER 13686. The White House. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  4. The White House. "The Cabinet". Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  5. 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.
  6. "President Clinton Raises FEMA Director to Cabinet Status" (Press release). Federal Emergency Management Agency. February 26, 1996. Archived from the original on January 16, 1997. Retrieved May 22, 2009.
  7. Fowler, Daniel (November 19, 2008). "Emergency Managers Make It Official: They Want FEMA Out of DHS". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on November 29, 2008. 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 March 3, 2010, by WebCite at
  8. Tenet, George (2007). At the Center of the Storm. London: HarperCollins. p. 136. ISBN 0-06-114778-8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. "History of Legislation to Create a Dept. of Peace".
  14. Republican Party Platform of 1976, August 18, 1976;The American Presidency Project;
  15. Thrush, Glenn (November 8, 2013). "Locked in the Cabinet". Politico. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  16. Clarke, Jr., John (January 16, 2009). "Quincy Jones Lobbies Obama for Secretary of Culture Post". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  17. "Obama Suggests 'Secretary of Business' in a 2nd Term - Washington Wire - WSJ". The Wall Street Journal.
  18. J. Stapelton Roy (June 29, 2007). "A Conversation with Michael McConnell". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved January 9, 2013.

Further reading

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