Talk:Cabinet of the United States

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In the Constitution[edit]

The President's Cabinet is mentioned - indirectly - twice in the Constitution, and this fact MUST be included in this article. These are in Article II, Section 2, Clause 1:
"the principal officers of the executive departments"
and in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment:
"the principal officers in each of the executive departments".
In the latter case, the avoidance of the word "Cabinet" was quite deliberate, but the meaning was clear: the principle officer of an executive department is either a Secretary or the Attorney General. This terminology might change sometime in the remote future, but the meaning will be the same. (talk) 14:15, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Secretary of state[edit]

In the list of cabinet members, the secretary of State is not there. That might be the most important one and she's not even listed. What gives? (talk) 10:07, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Previously unsectioned comments[edit]

I've always found it odd that in many places in the US you have elections for the judiciary and yet cabinet positions are appointed by the President. Seems arse about face to me.

The Federal system does not have elected judges. One can say that when the President is re/elected, you re/elect the Cabinet as well. --hoshie

I'd add that it was an explicit goal of the Founders to have a much stronger presidency than they saw in Parliamentary systems, which is why they rejected the "Cabinet as a committee of Parliament" model. (And I'd note that in Parliamentary systems, you don't vote for the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.) --Tb 22:34 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

At the time, the monarch still had considerable power and was the dominant executive. Weak presidents did not exist yet. --Jiang
In England, George III was certainly strong, but power had pretty much actually transitioned to Parliament. The Privy Council was well on its way to becoming the vestigial stump it is today, being replaced by the Cabinet, and the Prime Minister and Parliament were the architects of government policy, not the King. The King did exercise reserved powers and executive authority more than today. The debates at the constitutional convention do consider explicitly whether the cabinet officers (or even the President) should be elected by the legislature, and they rejected it for the reasons I gave. --Tb 23:10 15 Jul 2003 (UTC)

What is the actual order of succession to the Presidency for each Secretary? The departments should be listed in that order. I believe the Secretary of War, now Secretary of Defense, is first, followed by State and Treasury, followed by the order in which others were created (though I'm not sure how the splits are handled). –radiojon 00:37, 2003 Oct 4 (UTC)

See United States Presidential line of succession Jiang

Is the Chairman of the Fed a cabinet level position? I would think so seeing as how he helps to shape the US economy.--jsonitsac

Sort of, but not officially. The Chairman of the Fed has had varying levels of influence; In addition, because the Federal Reserve is semi-sort-of-privatized (It's officially owned by the member banks, not the Government), he doesn't fall into the official Cabinet. More curious, I think, is the absence of the Surgeon General, often a booming voice on health issues. (Whereas the Secretary of HHS is a politician, the Surgeon General is, in a way, the "Nation's Physician".) You'd think he'd be consulted on health policy. --Penta 22:06, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
In answer to the comment above on the Surgeon General, that position is more one of a bully pulpit and its influence varies depending on the person holding the office. The SG has very little specific statutory authority, while the Secretary of HHS has budgetary and administrative authority over an entire department. There is an ongoing argument that there should be a Department of Health, headed by the SG, spun off from HHS (just as the Department of Education was). However, there seems to be little political support for this idea in Congress in either party at the moment. The SG is rarely considered a senior policy advisor to the President. I would also point out that the SG is not necessarily more or less political than any Cabinet secretary - again, this depends more on the individual appointee than the nature of the office itself. For more information see the Surgeon General article. --Xinoph 18:02, Nov 16, 2004 (UTC)

FEMA is now part of the Department of Homeland Security, and the head of FEMA is now an Under Secretary (instead of a Director). I've made the appropriate changes to the article, but does anyone know if the FEMA Under Secretary is still a "Cabinet-level administration office"? - Walkiped 02:29, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Thompson, Ridge[edit]

While their intent to resign has been widely reported, it has not been officially announced. Let's leave the asterisk to officially announced resignations and leave the speculation to commentators.--Xinoph 17:49, Nov 16, 2004 (UTC)

Cabinet-level administration offices[edit]

I could not find a clear description of how cabinet, cabinet-level and cabinet-rank fit in the executive's organizational structure; what the difference is between them. An org chart would be VERY helpful. (talk) 12:03, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

When should we replace Director of Central Intelligence with the Director of National Intelligence? james_anatidae 06:14, Feb 19, 2005 (UTC)

I think we should wait until Negroponte has been confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office. - Walkiped 18:28, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Do we have a source on this list? The White House site (linked at the bottom of the article) has a much shorter list of non-member cabinet-level officers, but I don't want to change anything yet. Ddye 01:00, 6 May 2005 (UTC)

This page should omit every office that is not listed on the White House's official list of Cabinet Rank Members ( Or at least it should note the difference between high-ranking officials that regularly attend Cabinet meetings and high-ranking officials who have been granted Cabinet Rank.

Table of the "Cabinet"[edit]

Thanks for a good article which explained a lot about the US cabinet to this Brit. However, I am still a bit confused by the "State" column in the table: these are federal appointees, and don't necessarily have any particular stete connection (if I have understood correctly). Physchim62 23:21, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

The "State" column simply refers to the official state of residence of the individual cabinet member.
DLJessup (talk) 01:20, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

In accordance with the definition of state provided in this section, I have reverted the edits by User:Folksong in which he changed Carlos Gutierrez's state from Michigan to Florida, and Elaine Chao's state from Kentucky to New York. While Gutierrez was a Florida resident for several years after immigrating to the United States, he was a Michigan resident at the time of his appointment. In Chao's case, she immigrated to New York, but was a Kentucky resident, by virtue of her husband's service in the U.S. Senate from that state at the time of her appointment. --TommyBoy 05:46, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

I have also used this reason in order to change Jim Nicholson's state from Iowa to Colorado. --TommyBoy 05:53, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Hello. I am sorting the table in alpha order by name of office. Does it look okay to you? Thanks for a nice article. I was surprised when searching that gives this page first (not a .gov page) for "United States Cabinet". -Susanlesch 11:04, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

No, it does not. The Cabinet is usually listed in rank order (the order that the cabinet member would succeed to the Presidency), and that is the order shown here. — CJewell (talk to me) 02:42, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
  • If the order that is shown here is right, then 1) great I learned something, and 2) yes it looks okay. -Susanlesch 04:35, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Secretary of Defense on the table[edit]

I understand that the Secretary of Defense was given a place on the table related to the date on which the modern department was founded, but according to every other ordering, including the presidential order of succession and the US order of precedence, that office is given the position of the war department which it replaced (after treasury and before the attorney-general), and I've edited it accordingly. Ddye 13:40, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Condoleezza Rice[edit]

Whoever is changing Condoleezza Rice's state is wrong. She is not considered from California, she is considered from Alabama. Even though she taught at Stanford, she resides in Alabama, not California. [unsigned]

Removal of states column[edit]

Took it out from the two tables, didn't add any value to this article. If you want to know where a particular cabinet member was from, click on their article and read it. — MrDolomite | Talk 20:17, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

Cabinet member change, Nov 8 2006[edit]

I've reverted Slastankya's change to Secretary of Defense -- no date has been given for the effectivity of Rumsfeld's resignation; Gates has only just been nominated, and has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. SeanWillard 20:13, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

I've noticed that, at the bottom list of "current" cabinet members, Gates's name is present, but not Rumsfeld's. The switch hasn't taken place yet... Alphabetagamma 00:33, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
Good catch. I'ved edited the current cabinet template accordingly. - Walkiped (T | C) 00:57, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Alphabetagamma 05:17, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Role of the Cabinet members[edit]

The article mentions "The United States Cabinet (usually simplified as "the Cabinet") is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States"

1. Is the "executive branch" refers to the "Executive Office of the President"?

It also mentions: Starting with President Franklin Roosevelt, the trend has been for Presidents to act through the Executive Office of the President or the National Security Council rather than through the Cabinet. This has created a situation in which non-Cabinet officials such as the White House Chief of Staff, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Security Advisor have power as large or larger than some Cabinet officials.

2. So what is (if there is) the differences between the role as a Cabinet member and an Executive Officer of the President? Are they only possess the executive functions; and are they in a different rank of official status?

Many thanks for your help.

scarlett_tong 14:27, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Statement on British Cabinet incorrect[edit]

The statement that:

"This constitutional separation between the executive and the legislative branches is distinct from the British parliamentary cabinet system, where a cabinet appointee as a rule must first be a member of the legislature, and continues in both positions."

Is incorrect. The Prime Minister can choose anyone he wants to be in cabinet. It is only by custom that they normally sit in the legislature. David Lloyd George had a newspaper editor in his cabinet and later Harold Wilson appointed Patrick Gordon Walker as Foreign Secretary despite him not holding a seat.

I have therefore deleted the above line. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:33, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

You are, of course, quite correct. I hope that the current edit is acceptable. Unschool (talk) 20:44, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

The current edit is also incorrect. It reads as follows:

"This constitutional separation between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch is quite different from the British, Canadian, or Australian parliamentary cabinet systems, where the members of the Cabinet are required by long-standing precedents to be sitting members of the legislature."

As stated above, there is no requirement in the Westminster system for Cabinet members to be sitting members of the legislature. It's only a convention--and not a constitutional one: In Canada, Michael M. Fortier was sworn in as Minister of Public Works and Government Services on February 6, 2006, without having been elected or appointed to Parliament. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:37, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Secretary of Foreign Affairs[edit]

This article claims the Secretary of State position had this name from July 27, 1789 to September 15, 1794, but then goes on to say that "the position was renamed Secretary of State prior to being filled for the first time in March 1790." Huh? The article Secretary of Foreign Affairs gives January 10, 1781 - September 15, 1789 as the dates; I assume this is right and this article is wrong. -Elmer Clark (talk) 21:47, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

I just noted that as well. I think the confusion comes from:

The office of Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs were reinstated by a law signed by George Washington on July 27, 1789. However, before the office was filled, on September 15, 1789, Washington signed into law another act which changed the name of the office from "Secretary of Foreign Affairs" to "Secretary of State,"

Looking at the references for John Jay, this seems pretty clear. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 14:36, 19 January 2009 (UTC)


The page doesn't really seem to give a very thorough treatment of the history of the cabinet. For example, where is the spoils system? (talk) 14:21, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

-I'd also like to see a better explanation of the nomination process, esp. for an incoming administration. For example, does the president elect nominate cabinet officers before he takes office? Are the confirmation hearings before he takes office? If not, when is the change of power between the new and old cabinet? It would be nice to have this here, with a new administration approaching. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:04, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Confirmation hearings[edit]

Senate confirmation hearings are not mentioned in this article, but should be. Badagnani (talk) 19:40, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Appointment of governors?[edit]

Quoth the article:

One of the few qualification restrictions is set out in Article One of the Constitution: "no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either house during his continuance in office." Accordingly, a sitting member of the United States Congress must resign his or her seat before accepting a Cabinet appointment. Likewise, a governor appointed to a cabinet post must resign as governor.

I'm not sure that the "likewise" clause follows. "Office under the United States" does not immediately strike me as applying to state governments. I know that in practice (and in the provisions of many state constitutions) governors cannot simultaneously hold federal office, but that doesn't really seem to be a result of the Constitutional clause cited. And if "office under the United States" does apply to state government, then it applies not just to governors but any state government official. I just worry that the current wording implies that a state governor is a federal office holder, which is not the case. --Jfruh (talk) 05:21, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

You're right. Making the change. JasonCNJ (talk) 09:09, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Dept of Homeland Security?[edit]

The Dept of Homeland Security is missing from the updated table: is this vandalism or is the position no longer a cabinet post? If it has been changed, neither this article nor the main Homeland Security one shows any evidence of such, in fact that article also has no mention of Obama's pick (or lack of same) at all. CFLeon (talk) 00:50, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Assumed Office Dates[edit]

Have any of the nominees been sworn into office yet? I know some have been confirmed, but I see on the info boxes for some nominees and the list pages for some departments, we have listed these nominees as having already taken office. Is this appropriate, or should we wait until they have been sworn into office. Of course this is all in the interest of accuracy. Rick Evans (talk) 02:27, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

The first secretaries assumed their office on January 21st, being confirmed on January 20th. I´m going to change this. (sebastianvader) 01:37, 27 January 2009 (CET)

UN Ambassador not a "former Cabinet member"[edit]

User:Ianweller has reverted my recent edit in which I removed the UN Ambassador from the "Former Cabinet positions" section due to its status as a current Cabinet postion under the Obama Administration. While he is correct in his observation that Cabinet status is not conferred under every administration, most recently occurring under the George W. Bush administration, I believe that it should be excluded from the list of "former Cabinet positions" while it is a "current Cabinet position". Any thoughts from other Wikipedians on how best to resolve this question would be most appreciated. --TommyBoy (talk) 21:26, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

The text in question is under the United States Cabinet#Former Cabinet positions section:
My position on the subject is to keep the text as the text is non-specific to any administration and is truthful. However, the section it is under may not be the correct section or may need to have its section renamed. --Ian Weller (talk) 21:35, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
I am responding to the request for a third opinion. The position of Ambassador to the United Nations is a “cabinet rank” position, not a cabinet post per se. Please note that the distinction of who is formally a Cabinet member of th is made on the White House’s webpage on the Cabinet. Traditionally, the sobriquet of “former cabinet officer” applies to formal Cabinet members – those who were formally on the path of secession – and not those of "cabinet-rank". The cabinet-rank officers are generally referred to as “former X”, with X being the title of their office. It would benefit this article to add some discussion of the differences between these two classes of positions. Askari Mark (Talk) 17:09, 17 April 2009 (UTC)
  • Since no response to my 3O, I'm removing this article from my watchlist. Please notify me of any subsequent queries on my talk page. Cheers, Askari Mark (Talk) 03:54, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

I was having trouble formulating my thoughts on this, so I just went ahead and changed this section. What do you all think? -Rrius (talk) 22:42, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree with the changes made to the section by User:Rrius. As noted earlier by User:Askari Mark and myself, aside from the 15 regular Cabinet officers, the determination of who qualifies for Cabinet-rank status varies by administration. In the case of the UN Ambassador, it is a current Cabinet-rank post under the Obama Administration, but under some administrations, including the George W. Bush administration, it was not conferred Cabinet-rank status. --TommyBoy (talk) 02:53, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
This looks good to me. --Ian Weller (talk) 23:16, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

"Significance" section delete[edit]

Here's another example of POV creep, of someone trying to present opinion as fact. "Significance" in itself is a value judgment. As it is, the section is riddled with POV and argumentation. (Obama's cabinet didn't meet for three months, therefore...) While the opinion that the cabinet has declined in influence may have merit, it's still opinion, especially when uncited. I think the whole section should be deleted. J M Rice (talk) 17:56, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

I just noticed this when illustrating the seated cabinet. Since there are no objections to this proposal after a month, I will remove the two "significance" paragraphs and keep the precedence and succession paragraphs. Cmprince (talk) 19:28, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

serve at the pleasure of the President[edit]

Cute phrase but needs to be explained. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:05, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

It has been clarified in the text.--Polly Ticker (talk) 18:31, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Confederate cabinet[edit]

Can someone add a few words to the article concerning the cabinet in the Confederate States government? I am editing an article involving the Confederacy that contains a link to this one - justified, of course, by the continuity of governmental structure. I don't believe that the Confederate cabinet is worth a separate article, but with no mention of the CSA here, a reader following the link might wonder if he/she has been delivered to the wrong address. I don't want much more than a statement that the Confederate cabinet was similar in form and practice. PKKloeppel (talk) 14:10, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure whether doing that actually makes sense, but what about linking to something else, such as Confederate States of America or Confederate States Constitution, which note in general terms the similarity in structures. A more specific addition about the Confederate Cabinet would make more sense at one or both of those articles than here as it is more clearly relevant to them. -Rrius (talk) 18:53, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
I see your point and will try to do it that way. Thank you. PKKloeppel (talk) 01:20, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Too much space at top[edit]

Why is there so much unsightly white space at the top of this article's page? I looked at the source but I can't figure out why it is there. It looks like at least two blank lines. Someone more knowledgeable than I, please take a look at it and fix it. •••Life of Riley (TC) 21:32, 22 May 2011 (UTC)

Rrius (talk) 01:43, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! Looks much better now. •••Life of Riley (TC) 01:47, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

Add "created" column to Cabinet table?[edit]

I think a column in the Cabinet table giving the year when each cabinet position was established would give readers a quick view of how the cabinet has evolved over time. Later sections on former, renamed, and proposed cabinet offices tell part of that story, so it's evidently part of the topic of the article. But currently an interested reader would have to click on each cabinet office to find when that office was created. I'd put the column between Office and Incumbent. What do you think? Jbening (talk) 23:18, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

In federal law and the Constitution[edit]

What on earth is this? "There are fifteen different Cabinet positions and they all have their own purpose. Like the secretary is supposed to handle things but they can't. Overall the cabinet needs to be more authorized." That's just weird writing. I don't even know quite what to say in criticism of it. "That's not right -- heck, that's not even wrong."  ;-) rasqual (talk) 04:45, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

It was vandalism added a few hours before you asked this question. -Rrius (talk) 16:44, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

help public to private permanent[edit]

this article is vandalism everyday.but this article is "edit" (unlocked) to "view source" (permanent locked). Akuindo (talk) 09:24, 17 March 2013 (UTC)