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Study Notes

Cabinet (US)

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Cabinet is the meeting chaired by the President, of all the department heads. The first Cabinet was chaired by George Washington and contained 4 members. Today the US Cabinet is much larger and all Cabinet Secretaries are appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate.

It is important to remember that there is no constitutional requirement for the Cabinet.

Meetings of the Cabinet vary by President. Historically the Cabinet met frequently, however since the White House has expanded the frequency has dropped. It is now more common for Presidents to meet with Cabinet Secretaries alongside advisors individually.

Members of the Cabinet are as follows:

  • Vice President
  • Secretary of State
  • Secretary of the Treasury
  • Secretary of Defence
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of the Interior
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Secretary of Commerce
  • Secretary of Labour
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Secretary of Energy
  • Secretary of Education
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  • Secretary of Homeland Security.

All members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the President, meaning that they can be moved on by the President quite easily. The President may also ordain and establish new Cabinet Departments. George W Bush did this with Department of Homeland Security.

Cabinet Rank Officials

There are several members of an administration who have the right to attend Cabinet meetings but are not officially part of the Cabinet itself. They are as follows:

  • White House Chief of Staff
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Trade Representative
  • Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • Administrator of the Small Business Administration

Cabinet positions in the US are not seen as a privilege in the same way that they are in the UK. Therefore, they are not really included in the President’s powers of patronage. The promise of a Cabinet Post would not inspire a member of Congress to vote along party lines to maintain loyalty as one in the UK would be.

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