Why there is no designated survivor for President Biden’s first joint address to Congress tonight

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday there will not be a designated survivor for President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress as most of the cabinet will not be in attendance.

The “designated survivor” is a procedure that dates back to the late 1950s during the Cold War, according to the Constitution Center. It refers to a Cabinet official in the direct line of presidential succession who is sequestered and taken to a secret location during the president’s joint session of Congress in the event of a disaster, attack, or an unforeseen event.

“There does not need to be a designated survivor because the Cabinet will be watching from their offices or home, but they will not be joining him for the speech,” Psaki said.

Coronavirus restrictions have limited the number of people allowed inside for Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress. First lady Jill Biden, the second gentleman and Vice President Kamala Harris will be in attendance. Psaki said there will not be a first lady’s box this year.

The designated survivor is also used for the State of the Union and presidential inaugurations. President Ronald Reagan first publicly acknowledged the term designated survivor at his 1981 address to Congress saying Education Secretary Terrell Bell was absent.

Biden is set to unveil his next $1.8 trillion stimulus package during the joint session, which focuses on universal preschool, free community college, national paid leave program and child care spending caps. In his American Families Plan, Biden will also roll out a series of tax hikes to pay for the program.


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