WASHINGTON (AP/FOX 10) -- The Associated Press is reporting that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is the so-called designated survivor for President Donald Trump's second State of the Union address.
By tradition, one Cabinet secretary is closeted away at a secure, undisclosed location to ensure continuity of government in case disaster strikes while government leaders attend the speech. Trump’s choice this year was limited by the number of “acting” secretaries in the Cabinet. Only Senate-confirmed secretaries (and natural-born citizens) in the line of succession to the presidency can assume control of government in a crisis.
According to the Senate Historical Office, the practice of having one cabinet official remaining absent from the State of the Union address dates back to at least the 1960s, and maybe even earlier, but the official selected was often not made public until the 1980s.
According to a list published by the Senate Historical Office, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was tasked with the role during 2018's State of the Union address, and during President Trump's speech to Congress on February 28, 2017, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin was selected as the designated survivor.
The tradition of keeping at least one cabinet member away from the State of the Union Address has been explored by the world of entertainment. According to IMDb, actor Kiefer Sutherland plays a low-level cabinet official that takes over the presidency after a devastating attack kills everyone above him in the line of succession, in the television series Designated Survivor.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report. FOX 10 reported on this story from Phoenix.