There will be no designated survivor during Biden’s address to Congress

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Joe Biden, Janet Yellen

President Joe Biden, accompanied by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, right, speaks as he gets his weekly economic briefing in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, April 9, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) – There will be no designated survivor when President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

The tradition of the designated survivor began in 1981 during the Cold War when an attack from the Soviet Union was a real threat. The designated survivor is a high-ranking official in the line of succession who is safely isolated during the president’s joint session addresses, State of the Union addresses, and inaugural events. If tragedy strikes, the designated survivor would still be available to take over as Commander in Chief.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced on Tuesday that during the president’s address this week, there would be no designated survivor. That’s because most of the Cabinet won’t actually attend the event, so designating a survivor wouldn’t be necessary.

At the top of the presidential line of succession are:

  • Vice President Kamala Harris
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • Senate President pro tempore Patrick Leahy
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken
  • Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland

Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Secretary Blinken, and Secretary Austin will all attend Wednesday’s address. A spokesperson says Senator Leahy will attend as well.

That means, of those who will not attend, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is the highest in the line of succession. Her office has confirmed she will not be at the Capitol.

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, now the Secretary of Energy, would normally be 15th in the line of succession but is disqualified because she is not a natural-born American citizen. Granholm was born in Vancouver, Canada.

Similarly, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas would be 17th in line for the Oval Office but was born in Havana, Cuba.

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