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Cabinet of the United States
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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 Constitution of the United States (Article II, Section 2) and the first President of the United States, George Washington, who appointed a Cabinet of four men: 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 officers 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 formerly the Postmaster General, 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

There is no explicit definition of the term "Cabinet" in either the U.S. Constitution, the United States Code, or the Code of Federal Regulations but, there are occasional references to "cabinet-level officers" or "secretaries", which when viewed in their context do refer to the "Heads of the Executive Departments" as listed in .

"The principal officers in each of the executive departments" are mentioned in Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution. This is the Article in the Constitution about the Executive Branch of the government. Also, "the principal officers of the executive departments" are mentioned in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which is an important section concerning the removal of the President when he or she is unable to carry out his duties because of some disability.

In 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 are created and are 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 , 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 , Cabinet level positions qualify for Level I pay, which amounts to $199,700. Some Cabinet-level officials, including the Vice President and the White House Chief of Staff, have their salaries determined differently.

Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials

The Obama Cabinet (2009) The men and women 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 do White House staff positions (e.g. the chief of staff or press secretary).


Department Office Incumbent Image in office since
Department of State
Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton
January 21, 2009

Department of the Treasury
Secretary of the Treasury
Timothy Geithner
January 26, 2009

Department of Defense
Secretary of Defense
Leon Panetta 85px July 1, 2011

Department of Justice
Attorney General
Eric Holder 85px February 2, 2009

Department of the Interior
Secretary of the Interior
Ken Salazar 85px January 20, 2009

Department of Agriculture
Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack 85px January 20, 2009

Department of Commerce
Secretary of Commerce
Rebecca Blank 85px June 11, 2012

Department of Labor
Secretary of Labor
Hilda Solis
February 24, 2009

Department of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius 85px April 28, 2009

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Shaun Donovan 85px January 26, 2009

Department of Transportation
Secretary of Transportation
Ray LaHood 85px January 22, 2009

Department of Energy
Secretary of Energy
Steven Chu 85px January 20, 2009

Department of Education
Secretary of Education
Arne Duncan
January 20, 2009

Department of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Eric Shinseki 85px January 20, 2009

Department of Homeland Security
Secretary of Homeland Security
Janet Napolitano
January 20, 2009

Cabinet-level officers

Agency Office Incumbent Image in office since

Office of the Vice President
Vice President Joe Biden
January 20, 2009

Executive Office of the President
White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew 85px January 27, 2012

Office of Management and Budget
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Jeffrey Zients
January 27, 2012
Environmental Protection Agency
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa P. Jackson 85px January 23, 2009

Office of the Trade Representative
Trade Representative Ron Kirk 85px March 18, 2009
United States Mission to the United Nations
Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice 85px January 22, 2009
Council of Economic Advisers
Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger 85px November 3, 2011
Small Business Administration
Administrator of the Small Business Administration Karen Mills 85px January 13, 2012[1]

Former Cabinet departments

Renamed Cabinet offices

Executive officials 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)[10]
  • 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)[11]

Lists of Cabinets

See also


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

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