The U.S. Cabinet - The President’s Advisors
By Joan Whetzel
The United States President has always had a set of advisors known as the Cabinet, which was established by the US Constitution. The President’s Cabinet consists of the Vice President, and the Secretaries (appointed department heads) of the 15 departments of the Federal Government. They are known as the Secretary of:
- The State Department
- The Treasury Department
- The Department of Defense (DOD)
- The Department of Justice
- The Department of the Interior
- The Department of Agriculture
- The Department of Commerce
- The Department of Labor
- The Department of Health and Human Services
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- The Department of Transportation (DOT)
- The Department of Energy
- The Department of Education
- The Department of Veterans Affairs
- The Department of Homeland Security
The Cabinet positions are listed in this order because the departments were created in this order and because this list also represents the order of succession should anything happen to the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House (next in line after the Vice President).
The Cabinet Set Up and Responsibilities
Cabinet members are nominated by the president (prior to taking the oath of office or when replacing an outgoing secretary) and must undergo a rigorous investigation process by the Senate before being approved and taking their own oath of office. Each Cabinet member acts as a liaison between the department he or she represents and the President, advising the President on issues that involve that department. The people working in each of these departments work for the US Government, not for the Secretary of that Department, and so they will remain in their jobs even though there is a change in Presidents or appointments of Cabinet members.
- Secretary of State
· Carries out diplomatic duties.
· Responsible for foreign affairs tasks.
· Speaks for the President in his absence at UN and international functions.
· Organizes meetings with foreign leaders and diplomatic officials.
· Establishes treaties and other contract arrangements between the US and other countries.
· Defends the safety of US citizens travelling abroad.
- Secretary of the Treasury
· Controls the nation’s money as well as being in charge of the national debt.
· Advises the President about domestic affairs, economic policy, and tax issues.
· Oversees the Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICD), the US Post Office (USPS), the US Treasury, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Secretary of Defense (DOD)
· Equips the armed forces with supplies, education and security.
· Administers the pay and benefits to the military.
· Responsible for locating MIAs and POWs.
· Oversees the more than 700,000 civilians employed by the DOD.
4. Secretary of Justice (DOJ)
· Heads up the Department of Justice.
· Chief legal counsel for the US and the President.
· Oversees the FBI.
· In charge enforcement of Federal laws and criminal prosecution of Federal crimes.
· Oversees immigration and naturalization policy.
· Supports competitive business ventures.
· Responsible for consumer protection issues.
- Secretary of the Interior (DOI)
· Accountable for the care of the nation’s natural resources, especially water, land, coal, oil, natural gas, and wildlife issues.
· Administers removal of natural resources.
· Oversees environmental protection issues.
· Directs issues that concern Native Americans.
- Secretary of Agriculture
· Oversees farming, crops, food safety, and US food supply,
· Supervises the food stamp and poverty programs.
· Responsible for conservation of US national resources and the US Forest Service, national parks, park rangers, and park firefighters.
· Oversees the US Department of Agriculture.
- Secretary of Commerce
· Oversees the purchase and sales of goods and commodities.
· Responsible for foreign trade.
· Accountable for the granting of patent goods.
· Supplies analysis and statistics to government planners.
- Secretary of Labor
· Responsible for the protection of workers and making sure working environments are save and fair.
· Ensures minimum wage and overtime pay requirements are met.
· Oversees unemployment, unemployment benefits, and job banks for the unemployed.
· Provides safe, fair working conditions for elderly workers, minorities, and disabled workers.
- Secretary of Health and Human Services
· Supervises over 300 programs related health and medicine including Medicare, Medicaid, medical research, and infectious diseases.
· Oversees social services and substance abuse programs.
- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
· Assures access to safe, affordable housing.
· Responsible for making sure home mortgages are insured through the Fannie May and Freddie Mac programs.
· Assures home construction and home improvement loans are available for elderly and handicapped citizens.
· Manages Federal subsidies for low and moderate income families.
- Secretary of Transportation (DOT)
· Oversees US roads and transportation infrastructures.
· Responsible for passenger vehicle safety (cars, buses, trucks, planes, trains, and boats).
· Supervises US ports and waterways.
· Oversees oil and gas pipeline infrastructures and safety.
- Secretary of Energy (DOE)
· Ensures uninterrupted supplies of safe energy.
· Oversees the development of alternative sources of energy (wind, wave, solar).
- Secretary of Education
· Oversees the US public school system.
· Provides school supplies for students.
· Provides qualified teachers in classrooms across the country.
· Encourages parental involvement in schools.
· Supplies financial assistance for education where it is needed.
· Encourages technology in the classroom.
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs
· Supervises the Veterans Administration.
· Oversees veterans services including health care, social services support, benefits and pensions.
· Supports the hiring of veterans.
Secretary of Homeland Security
· Manages all programs dealing with protection of the US against terrorist attacks.
· Oversees emergency preparedness programs.
· Coordinates the response of the US to emergencies that may happen in the future.
· Manages agencies that analyze intelligence reports on potential threats to the US.
· Supervises border security, airport security, and the protection of the national security infrastructures.
The President’s Cabinet members are responsible for knowing how the departments they represent operate and what they can accomplish. They must also advise the President on ways their departments can be changed or updated and how their department resources and the nation’s resources can be optimized. After decisions have been made by the President and the Cabinet members, the information is distributed to the appropriate Departments and the Secretaries are then responsible for making sure these new policies are organized and implemented within a realistic time frame.
The White House. The Cabinet.
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