United States Secretary of State
|Secretary of State of the United States of America|
Seal of the Secretary of State
Flag of the Secretary of State
|United States Department of State|
|Member of||Cabinet, National Security Council|
|Reports to||The President|
with Senate advice and consent
|Term length||No fixed term|
|Constituting instrument||22 U.S.C. § 2651|
|Precursor||United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs|
|Formation||July 27, 1789|
|First holder||John Jay (acting)
|Succession||Fourth in the Presidential Line of Succession|
|Deputy||Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken|
|Salary||$205,700 annually (Executive Schedule I)|
The Secretary of State is a senior official of the federal government of the United States of America heading the U.S. Department of State, principally concerned with foreign policy and is considered to be the U.S. government's equivalent of a Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The Secretary of State is nominated by the President of the United States and, following a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is confirmed by the United States Senate. The Secretary of State, along with the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, and Attorney General are generally regarded as the four most important Cabinet members because of the importance of their respective departments. Secretary of State is a Level I position in the Executive Schedule and thus earns the salary prescribed for that level (currently $205,700).
The previous Secretary of State was 2004 presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, the 68th person to hold the office since its creation by Congress in July 1789. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been nominated by President Donald Trump to become the 69th Secretary of State (after retiring from the corporation a few months early). Tom Shannon is the current acting Secretary of State pending Tillerson's confirmation.
Duties and responsibilities
The specific duties of the Secretary of State include:
- Organizes and supervises the whole community United States Department of State and the United States Foreign Service
- Advises the President on matters relating to U.S. foreign policy including the appointment of diplomatic representatives to other nations and on the acceptance or dismissal of representatives from other nations
- Participates in high-level negotiations with other countries, either bilaterally or as part of an international conference or organization or appoints representatives to do so including negotiation of international treaties and other agreements
- Responsible for overall direction, coordination, and supervision of interdepartmental activities of the U.S. Government overseas
- Providing information and services to U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad, including providing credentials in the form of passports and visas
- Ensures the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property, and interests in foreign countries
- Supervises the United States immigration policy abroad
- Communicates issues relating the United States foreign policy to Congress and to U.S. citizens
The original duties of the Secretary of State include some domestic duties, such as:
- Receipt, publication, distribution, and preservation of the laws of the United States
- Preparation, sealing, and recording of the commissions of Presidential appointees
- Preparation and authentication of copies of records and authentication of copies under the Department's seal
- Custody of the Great Seal of the United States
- Custody of the records of the former Secretary of the Continental Congress, except for those of the Treasury and War Departments
Most of the domestic functions of the Department of State have been transferred to other agencies. Those that remain include storage and use of the Great Seal of the United States, performance of protocol functions for the White House, and the drafting of certain proclamations. The Secretary also negotiates with the individual States over the extradition of fugitives to foreign countries. Under Federal Law, the resignation of a President or of a Vice-President is only valid if declared in writing, in an instrument delivered to the office of the Secretary of State. Accordingly, the resignations of President Nixon and of Vice-President Spiro Agnew, domestic issues, were formalized in instruments delivered to the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.
As the highest-ranking member of the cabinet, the Secretary of State is the third-highest official of the executive branch of the Federal Government of the United States, after the President and Vice President and is fourth in line to succeed the Presidency, coming after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President pro tempore of the Senate. Six Secretaries of State have gone on to be elected President. Others, including John Kerry, William Seward, Henry Clay and Hillary Clinton have been unsuccessful presidential candidates, either before or after their term of office as Secretary of State. Former Secretaries of State retain the right to add the title "Secretary" to their surnames.
As the head of the United States Foreign Service, the Secretary of State is responsible for management of the diplomatic service of the United States. The foreign service employs about 12,000 people domestically and internationally, and supports 265 United States diplomatic missions around the world, including ambassadors to various nations. The U.S. Secretary of State has the power to remove any foreign diplomat from U.S. soil for any reason.
The nature of the position means that Secretaries of State engage in travel around the world. The record for most countries visited in a secretary's tenure is 112, by Hillary Clinton. Second is Madeleine Albright with 96. The record for most air miles traveled in a secretary's tenure is 1.380 million miles, by John Kerry. Second is Rice's 1.059 million miles and third is Clinton's 956,733 miles.
When there is a vacancy in the office of Secretary of State, the duties are exercised either by another member of the cabinet, or, in more recent times, by a high-ranking official of the State Department until the President appoints, and the United States Senate confirms, a new Secretary.
Line of succession
The line of succession for the Secretary of State is as follows:
- Deputy Secretary of State
- Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources
- Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
- Under Secretary of State for Management
- Remaining Under Secretaries of State (following in the order they took the oath of office)
- Assistant Secretaries of States for regional bureaus (following in the order they took the oath of office)
- Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (acting)
- Other Officers (following in the order they took the oath of office)
- Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation
- Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Administration
- Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration
- Legal Adviser of the Department of State
- Coordinator for International Information Programs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security
- Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research
- Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
- Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance
- Director General of the Foreign Service
- Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
- Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations
- Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs (acting)
- Coordinator for Counterterrorism (acting)
- United States Ambassador to the United Nations (New York)
- Deputy United States Ambassador to the United Nations (New York)
- Remaining US representatives to the United Nations (New York) (following in the order they took the oath of office)
- Alternative United States Representative to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs
- United States Representative to the United Nations for UN Management and Reform
- United States Representative on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
- the following Chiefs of Missions (in the following order)
- Other officers (following in the order they took the oath of office)
- United States Ambassadors at Large
- Counselor of the United States Department of State
- Special Representatives of the President
- Remaining Chiefs of Missions (following in the order they took the oath of office)
List of Secretaries of State
- "Pay & Leave: Salaries & Wages". Salary Table No. 2015-EX. United States Office of Personnel Management. January 1, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
- 5 U.S.C. § 5312.
- "Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers for Foreign Affairs", Protocol and Liaison Service, United Nations. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- NATO Member Countries, NATO. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- Cabinets and Counselors: The President and the Executive Branch (1997). Congressional Quarterly. p. 87.
- "Duties of the Secretary of State of the United States". www.state.gov. United States Department of State. January 20, 2009. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
- "Frequently asked questions - Office of the Historian". Office of the Historian, United States Department of State. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- 3 USC § 20 - Resignation or refusal of office
- Mark Landler (January 4, 2013). "Scare Adds to Fears That Clinton's Work Has Taken Toll". The New York Times.
- Lee, Matthew (June 28, 2012). "Frequent flier Hillary Clinton hits 100-country mark". Detroit Free Press. Associated Press.[dead link]
- Associated Press (April 6, 2016). "Kerry breaks record for miles traveled by secretary of state". Fox News.
- Ford, Worthington C., ed. (1927). Statesman and Friend: Correspondence of John Adams with Benjamin Waterhouse, 1784–1822. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company. p. 57.
- "Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of State". Federal Register. 2002-01-11. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Secretaries of State of the United States.|
- Official website
- The Department of State's organization page
- The Department of State's Office of the Historian
|United States presidential line of succession|
President pro tempore of the Senate
|4th in line||Succeeded by
Secretary of the Treasury