The only place you’ll find a “designated survivor” on Wednesday — the night of President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress — is on Netflix.
“There does not need to be a designated survivor because the Cabinet will be watching from their offices or home, but they will not be joining him for the speech,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
Usually when a president addresses Congress, all the Cabinet members are in attendance except for one designee – the “designated survivor.” That person is a Cabinet official appointed to go to a secure location in case a catastrophic event kills the president and other Cabinet members. With attendance at the U.S. Capitol cut in half by the pandemic, the White House did not choose such a person for the address.
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Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are expected to attend the speech, leaving Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as next in line of presidential succession in the event of a U.S. Capitol disaster.
In past State of the Union addresses, lower-ranking Cabinet officials have been selected to sit out the event, like former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in 2020 and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry in 2019. This is the first time in decades a “designated survivor” has not been appointed.
A full list of invitees has not yet been released for the address.
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: [email protected]