Watch CBS News

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo selected as State of the Union designated survivor

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was selected as the "designated survivor" during this year's State of the Union, CBS News has confirmed. The designated survivor does not attend the speech at the Capitol and stays away from the campus so that they are at the ready to take over the government if catastrophe strikes.

There was no designated survivor named in 2021 since only 200 members attended the speech due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Naming a designated survivor is a tradition that dates back to the Cold War, according to the Constitution Center

The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 created a line of succession if the president dies or is incapacitated. First to take office would be the vice president, followed by the speaker of the U.S. House (Nancy Pelosi) and the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate (Patrick Leahy). 

Raimondos Mission
In this Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, photo Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo speaks at The Economic Club of Washington.  Alex Brandon / AP

The next people in line are in the Cabinet: The secretary of state (Antony Blinken), treasury secretary (Janet Yellen), defense secretary (Lloyd Austin), attorney general (Merrick Garland), secretary of the interior (Deb Haaland), secretary of agriculture (Tom Vilsack) and so on. Because all those people will be present for the speech, the White House names a designated survivor to take over the government.

The first time a designated survivor was named was in 1981, when the White House chose then-Education Secretary Terrel Bell. Since then, a designated survivor has been named during the president's joint session addresses, State of the Unions and inaugurations. 

In 2020, then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was the designated survivor.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.