When he's not holding rallies as part of his "thank you" tour, President-elect Donald Trump is working on his transition into the White House. A big part of that is choosing his Cabinet, the group of advisers who will helm executive departments and have his ear in the West Wing.
The Cabinet, which was established in Article II, section two of the Constitution, dates back to George Washington's administration. Back then, it was a four-member council comprised of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox and Attorney General Edmund Randolph. Since that time, the Cabinet has grown, and its officials now have a hand in everything from the creation of the food stamp program to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Today, the Cabinet is comprised of the vice president and 15 department heads, as well as a handful of Cabinet-level positions, such as White House chief of staff.
Below are the Cabinet positions and their responsibilities, listed in order of succession to the Presidency:
Vice President of the United States
Originally, the Vice President's main job was to preside over the Senate. But beginning in the 1970s, the Vice President's powers grew. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, is considered to have had a large role in shaping George W. Bush's foreign policy. Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will take over the office from Joe Biden when Trump is inaugurated in January.
Secretary of State
The secretary of state serves as the President's main adviser on foreign policy issues, negotiates treaties and represents the U.S. at the United Nations. Trump has yet to say who will replace current Secretary of State John Kerry in his administration, but former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Bob Corker and retired General and former CIA Director David Petraeus are reportedly under consideration, though the New York Times reported Sunday that Trump is still interviewing candidates, so that list may still grow.
Secretary of the Treasury
The secretary of the treasury is in charge of the administration's financial and economic policies. Trump named hedge fund manager and movie financier Steven Mnuchin as his replacement for current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Secretary of Defense
United States Attorney General
Dubbed the "pople's lawyer," the attorney general helms the United States Department of Justice and advises the president on legal matters. The position is currently held by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Trump has picked Sen. Jeff Sessions to fill the role.
Secretary of the Interior
Known to some as the "department of everything else," the DOI "protects America's natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities and supplies the energy to power our future" and is currently headed by Secretary Sally Jewell. Trump has yet to name his pick, but the drilling advocates on his short list — which apparently includes former Vice-presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — have environmental activists concerned.
Secretary of Agriculture
Thomas J. Vilsack currently heads the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees policies relating to food, agriculture and rural development. No word yet on who will fill that role in Trump's administration, but one of the names Trump has mentioned is Sid Miller, the Texas agriculture commissioner and Trump adviser who once called Hillary Clinton a "cunt" on Twitter.
Secretary of Commerce
As the department's mission statement puts it: "The Secretary of Commerce serves as the voice of U.S. business within the President's Cabinet." Businesswoman Penny Pritzker currently serves in the role, for which Trump has tapped billionaire investor and longtime Trump business associate Wilbur Ross Jr.
Secretary of Labor
Thomas E. Perez is the current United States Secretary of Labor and is tasked with overseeing the welfare of U.S. workers. Trump has yet to officially announce his choice, but reports indicate that he is considering Obama-critic Andrew Puzder, the CEO of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent company CKE Restaurants.
Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Department of Health and Human Services oversees all health-related policy. Trump has tapped Rep. Tom Price, a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act, to replace current Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Earlier this week, Trump announced the nomination of one of his former Republican presidential primary opponents, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, despite his lack of formal qualifications. In that role, he will take over for Julian Castro as the president's adviser on issues relating to housing and cities, including homelessness, sustainability and equal opportunity.
Secretary of Transportation
The Department of Transportation secretary became an official Cabinet post in 1967. Trump has chosen former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to head the department — which is currently under the guidance of Secretary Anthony Foxx — in what some have described as one of Trump's more conventional picks.
Secretary of Energy
According to its mission statement, the Energy Department seeks to "ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions." The current secretary of energy is Ernest Moniz; Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative democrat, is reportedly under consideration for the role in Trump's administration.
Secretary of Education
Trump's selection of Betsy DeVos, a republican donor and so-called "school choice" advocate, has been met with significant criticism. DeVos, who would be Trump's primary voice on educational policy, is considered the face of a struggling school system in her native Michigan. The department is currently run by Secretary John King.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Trump has promised to "fix" the VA, which is currently run by Secretary Robert McDonald. But some veterans advocates worry that the incoming Trump administration will gut the department, which is tasked with providing assistance to military veterans. Reports that Sarah Palin and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are under consideration for the role add to concerns that the new administration will privatize the VA.
Secretary of Homeland Security
One of the central tenets of Trump's presidential campaign was immigration. His calls to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, to conduct massive deportations of undocumented immigrants and to halt immigration from Muslim countries were among his signature tunes at campaign rallies. That potentially makes the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created in the wake of September 11th, one of the most significant roles in the Trump administration. The agency, which focuses on terrorism, national security and the enforcement of immigration laws, is currently headed by Secretary Jeh Johnson. Trump has yet to officially announce his secretary of homeland security pick, but Politico reported that top Trump aides have mentioned retired Marine General John Kelly as the top candidate. Far-right Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke is also reportedly under consideration.
There are currently seven positions that are not considered to be an official part of the president's Cabinet, but that have Cabinet-level rankings. They are: the White House chief of staff, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the United States Trade representative, the United States mission to the United Nations, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and the head of the Small Business Administration.
On Nov. 13, Trump named Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus chief of staff.
Correction: Dec. 7, 2016
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