WASHINGTON – The Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, Sonny Perdue, will be the “designated survivor” while US President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address on Tuesday before a joint session of the Congress.
According to the White House, Perdue will be the member of the Cabinet who remains in a safe place while Trump delivers his speech before the joint House chamber.
Last February, Trump chose Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin for this same purpose during his address to a joint session, shortly after taking office.
One of the most curious traditions of US politics, the “designated survivor” is selected from the Cabinet members by the administration and has to remain outside the ceremony in case disaster strikes in the Capitol while the entire government team is inside.
Furthermore, the person in question must also be eligible to be elected president in case the incumbent died.
However, the “survivor” should not be chosen for the Presidency when a person in line of succession who holds a position superior to him or her survives a disaster.
The State of the Union address, which began during President George Washington’s tenure in 1790, included the “designated survivor” tradition in the 1960s in response to the Cold War tension between the Soviet Union and the US.
Confirmed to the post of the Agriculture Secretary in April 2017, the chosen one, Sonny Perdue, is a former farmer and veterinarian from the southern state of Georgia turned politician.
The first politician from a southern state to be elected to the Agriculture Secretary office since the early 1990s, the 71-year-old Georgian stood out in office with his direct knowledge of the problems facing American farmers.