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Cabinet of the United States
Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
P20210720AS-3425-2 (51417135942).jpg
President Joe Biden's Cabinet pictured in July 2021
Formation March 4, 1789
(235 years ago)
Legal status Inferred (Opinion Clause)
Purpose Advisory body to the president of the United States
Joe Biden
25 members, plus the VP:

The Cabinet of the United States is the principal official advisory body to the president of the United States. The Cabinet meets with the president in a room adjacent to the Oval Office. The president chairs the meetings but is not formally a member of the Cabinet. The heads of departments, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, are members of the Cabinet, and acting department heads also participate in Cabinet meetings whether or not they have been officially nominated for Senate confirmation. The president may designate heads of other agencies and non-Senate-confirmed members of the Executive Office of the President as members of the Cabinet.

The Cabinet does not have any collective executive powers or functions of its own, and no votes need to be taken. There are 26 members: the vice president, 15 department heads, and 10 Cabinet-level officials, all except two of whom require Senate confirmation. During Cabinet meetings, the members sit in the order in which their respective department was created, with the earliest being closest to the president and the newest farthest away.

The members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the president, who can dismiss them at any time without the approval of the Senate, as affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in Myers v. United States (1926) or downgrade their Cabinet membership status. Often it is legally possible for a Cabinet member to exercise certain powers over his or her own department against the president's wishes, but in practice this is highly unusual due to the threat of dismissal. The president also has the authority to organize the Cabinet, such as instituting committees. Like all federal public officials, Cabinet members are also subject to impeachment by the House of Representatives and trial in the Senate for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors".

The Constitution of the United States does not explicitly establish a Cabinet. The Cabinet's role, inferred from the language of the Opinion Clause (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) of the Constitution is to provide advice to the president. Additionally, the Twenty-fifth Amendment authorizes the vice president, together with a majority of the heads of the executive departments, to declare the president "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office". The heads of the executive departments are—if eligible—in the presidential line of succession.


James K. Polk and his Cabinet in 1846: the first Cabinet to be photographed.

The tradition of the Cabinet arose out of the debates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention regarding whether the president would exercise executive authority solely or collaboratively with a cabinet of ministers or a privy council. As a result of the debates, the Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 1) vests "all executive power" in the president singly, and authorizes—but does not compel—the president (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) to "require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices". The Constitution does not specify what the executive departments will be, how many there will be, or what their duties will be.

George Washington, the first president of the United States, organized his principal officers into a Cabinet, and it has been part of the executive branch structure ever since. Washington's Cabinet consisted of five members: himself, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox and Attorney General Edmund Randolph. Vice President John Adams was not included in Washington's Cabinet because the position was initially regarded as a legislative officer (president of the Senate). Furthermore, until there was a vacancy in the presidency (which did not occur until the death of William Henry Harrison in 1841) it was not certain that a vice president would be allowed to serve as president for the duration of the original term as opposed to merely acting as president until new elections could be held. It was not until the 20th century that vice presidents were regularly included as members of the Cabinet and came to be regarded primarily as a member of the executive branch.

Presidents have used Cabinet meetings of selected principal officers but to widely differing extents and for different purposes. During President Abraham Lincoln's administration, Secretary of State William H. Seward advocated the use of a parliamentary-style Cabinet government. However, Lincoln rebuffed Seward. While a professor Woodrow Wilson also advocated a parliamentary-style Cabinet, but after becoming president did not implement it in his administration. In recent administrations, Cabinets have grown to include key White House staff in addition to department and various agency heads. President Ronald Reagan formed seven sub-cabinet councils to review many policy issues, and subsequent presidents have followed that practice.

Federal law

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 (also known as 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.

Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, an administration may appoint acting heads of department from employees of the relevant department. These may be existing high-level career employees, from political appointees of the outgoing administration (for new administrations), or sometimes lower-level appointees of the administration.

Confirmation process

Top Left Cabinet Image
Historical makeup of the Cabinet of the United States by year.

The heads of the executive departments and all other federal agency heads are nominated by the president and then presented to the Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority (although before the use of the "nuclear option" during the 113th United States Congress, they could have been blocked by filibuster, requiring cloture to be invoked by 35 supermajority to further consideration). If approved, they receive their commission scroll, are sworn in, and begin their duties. When the Senate is not in session, the president can appoint acting heads of the executive departments, and do so at the beginning of their term.

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.

Office Senate confirmation review committee
Secretary of State Foreign Relations Committee
Secretary of the Treasury Finance Committee
Secretary of Defense Armed Services Committee
Attorney General Judiciary Committee
Secretary of the Interior Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Secretary of Agriculture Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee
Secretary of Commerce Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Secretary of Labor Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
Secretary of Health and Human Services Finance Committee (official)
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (consult)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee
Secretary of Transportation Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Secretary of Energy Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Secretary of Education Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Veterans Affairs Committee
Secretary of Homeland Security Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Trade Representative Finance Committee
Director of National Intelligence Select Committee on Intelligence
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Budget Committee
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Environment and Public Works Committee
Administrator of the Small Business Administration Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee


The heads of the executive departments and most other senior federal officers at cabinet or sub-cabinet level receive their salary under a fixed five-level pay plan known as the Executive Schedule, which is codified in Title 5 of the United States Code. Twenty-one positions, including the heads of the executive departments and others, receiving Level I pay are listed in 5 U.S.C. § 5312, and those forty-six positions on Level II pay (including the number two positions of the executive departments) are listed in 5 U.S.C. § 5313. As of January 2023, the Level I annual pay was set at $235,600.

The annual salary of the vice president is $235,300. The salary level was set by the Government Salary Reform Act of 1989, which provides an automatic cost of living adjustment for federal employees. The vice president receives the same pension as other members of Congress as the president of the Senate.

Current Cabinet and Cabinet-rank officials

The individuals listed below were nominated by President Joe Biden to form his Cabinet and were confirmed by the United States Senate on the date noted or are serving as acting department heads by his request, pending the confirmation of his nominees.

Vice president and the heads of the executive departments

The Cabinet permanently includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments, listed here according to their order of succession to the presidency. 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.

(Constituting instrument)
Incumbent Took office
US Vice President Seal.svg
Vice President
(Constitution, Article II, Section I)
Kamala Harris Vice Presidential Portrait.jpg
Kamala Harris
January 20, 2021
Seal of the United States Secretary of State.svg
Secretary of State
(22 U.S.C. § 2651a)
Secretary Blinken's Official Department Photo.jpg
Antony Blinken
January 26, 2021
Secretary of the Treasury
(31 U.S.C. § 301)
Secretary Janet Yellen portrait.jpg
Janet Yellen
January 26, 2021
US Department of Defense seal.svg
Secretary of Defense
(10 U.S.C. § 113)
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, official portrait, 2023.jpg
Lloyd Austin
January 22, 2021
Attorney General
(28 U.S.C. § 503)
Attorney General Merrick Garland.jpg
Merrick Garland
March 11, 2021
Secretary of the Interior
(43 U.S.C. § 1451)
Secretary Deb Haaland, official headshot.jpg
Deb Haaland
March 16, 2021
US Department of Agriculture seal.svg
Secretary of Agriculture
(7 U.S.C. § 2202)
20210427-OSEC-TEW-001 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (51148817903).jpg
Tom Vilsack
February 24, 2021
Secretary of Commerce
(15 U.S.C. § 1501)
Gina Raimondo.jpg
Gina Raimondo
March 3, 2021
Secretary of Labor
(29 U.S.C. § 551)
Julie Su Portrait.jpg
Julie Su
March 11, 2023
US Department of Health and Human Services seal.svg
Secretary of Health and Human Services
(Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953,
67 Stat. 631 and 42 U.S.C. § 3501)
HHS Xavier Becerra.jpg
Xavier Becerra
March 19, 2021
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
(42 U.S.C. § 3532)
Adrianne Todman.jpg
Adrianne Todman
March 22, 2024
United States Department of Transportation seal.svg
Secretary of Transportation
(49 U.S.C. § 102)
Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation.jpg
Pete Buttigieg
February 3, 2021
Secretary of Energy
(42 U.S.C. § 7131)
Secretary Jennifer Granholm
Jennifer Granholm
February 25, 2021
Secretary of Education
(20 U.S.C. § 3411)
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, official portrait.jpg
Miguel Cardona
March 2, 2021
Seal of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.svg
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
(38 U.S.C. § 303)
Secretary McDonough, official photo.jpg
Denis McDonough
February 9, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg
Secretary of Homeland Security
(6 U.S.C. § 112)
Secretary Mayorkas Official Photo.jpg
Alejandro Mayorkas
February 2, 2021

Cabinet-level officials

The president may designate additional positions to be members of the Cabinet, which can vary under each president. They are not in the line of succession and are not necessarily officers of the United States.

Cabinet-level officials
Office Incumbent Term began
Environmental Protection Agency logo.svg
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
(5 U.S.C. § 906, Executive Order 11735)
Michael S. Regan official photo.jpg
Michael S. Regan
March 11, 2021
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
(31 U.S.C. § 502, Executive Order 11541,
Executive Order 11609, Executive Order 11717)
Shalanda Young, OMB Deputy Director.jpg
Shalanda Young
March 24, 2021
Seal of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.svg
Director of National Intelligence
(50 U.S.C. § 3023)
Avril Haines
January 21, 2021
Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency.svg
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
(50 U.S.C. § 3036)
CIA Director Burns.jpg
William J. Burns
July 21, 2023
Trade Representative
(19 U.S.C. § 2171)
Katherine Tai, official portrait.jpg
Katherine Tai
March 18, 2021
U.S. Department of State official seal.svg
Ambassador to the United Nations
(22 U.S.C. § 287)
Linda Thomas-Greenfield
February 25, 2021
Council of Economic Advisers.png
Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
(15 U.S.C. § 1023)
Jared Bernstein, CEA Member.jpg
Jared Bernstein
July 10, 2023
Administrator of the Small Business Administration
(15 U.S.C. § 633)
Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator.png
Isabel Guzman
March 17, 2021
Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
(42 U.S.C. § 6612)
Dr. Arati Prabhakar by Sun L. Vega, 2015.jpg
Arati Prabhakar
October 3, 2022
Seal of the Executive Office of the President of the United States 2014.svg
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)
Jeff Zients, WHCOS.jpg
Jeff Zients
February 7, 2023

Former executive and Cabinet-level departments

Renamed heads of the executive departments

Positions intermittently elevated to Cabinet-rank

Proposed Cabinet departments

  • Department of Industry and Commerce, proposed by Secretary of the Treasury William Windom in a speech given at a Chamber of Commerce dinner in May 1881.
  • Department of Natural Resources, proposed by the Eisenhower administration, President Richard Nixon, the 1976 GOP national platform, and by Bill Daley (as a consolidation of the Departments of the Interior and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency).
  • Department of Peace, proposed by Founding Father Benjamin Rush in 1793, Senator Matthew Neely in the 1930s, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, 2020 and 2024 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, and other members of the U.S. Congress.
  • Department of Social Welfare, proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1937.
  • Department of Public Works, proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1937.
  • Department of Conservation (renamed Department of the Interior), proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt in January 1937.
  • Department of Urban Affairs and Housing, proposed by President John F. Kennedy.
  • Department of Business and Labor, proposed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • Department of Community Development, proposed by President Richard Nixon; to be chiefly concerned with rural infrastructure development.
  • Department of Human Resources, proposed by President Richard Nixon; essentially a revised Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
  • Department of Economic Affairs, proposed by President Richard Nixon; essentially a consolidation of the Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Agriculture.
  • Department of Environmental Protection, proposed by Senator Arlen Specter and others.
  • Department of Intelligence, proposed by former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.
  • Department of Global Development, proposed by the Center for Global Development.
  • Department of Art, proposed by Quincy Jones.
  • Department of Business, proposed by President Barack Obama as a consolidation of the U.S. Department of Commerce's core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
  • Department of Education and the Workforce, proposed by President Donald Trump as a consolidation of the Departments of Education and Labor.
  • Department of Health and Public Welfare, proposed by President Donald Trump as a renamed Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Department of Economic Development, proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren to replace the Commerce Department, subsume other agencies like the Small Business Administration and the Patent and Trademark Office, and include research and development programs, worker training programs, and export and trade authorities like the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative with the single goal of creating and protecting American jobs.
  • Department of Technology, proposed by businessman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
  • Department of Culture, patterned on similar departments in many foreign nations, proposed by, among others, Murray Moss and Jeva Lange.
  • When he was SEC Chairman, Harvey Pitt proposed that the Securities and Exchange Commission be elevated to Cabinet level. In July 2002, The New York Times wrote: "Democratic and Republican members of Congress joined administration officials today in ridiculing Harvey L. Pitt's request that his pay be increased and his job as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission be elevated to Cabinet rank ... evoking an outpouring of bipartisan scorn." Pitt had tried to insert a provision into corporate antifraud legislation that would increase his pay by 21%, and also elevate his status to that of Cabinet level, at a time when the stock markets had sunk to five-year lows and some congressional leaders were calling for him to resign.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Gabinete de los Estados Unidos para niños

  • Black Cabinet
  • Brain trust
  • Cabinet of Joe Biden
  • Cabinet of the Confederate States of America
  • Kitchen Cabinet
  • List of African-American United States Cabinet members
  • List of Hispanic and Latino American United States Cabinet members
  • List of female United States Cabinet members
  • List of foreign-born United States Cabinet members
  • List of people who have held multiple United States Cabinet-level positions
  • List of United States Cabinet members who have served more than eight years
  • List of United States political appointments that crossed party lines
  • St. Wapniacl (historical mnemonic acronym)
  • United States presidential line of succession
  • Unsuccessful nominations to the Cabinet of the United States
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