No designated survivor chosen for Biden’s joint address to Congress

President Biden on Thursday announced nominees for seven senior State Department positions and nine ambassador posts
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A designated survivor will not be chosen for President Biden’s joint address to Congress on Wednesday, and several Cabinet members will not attend the speech in person amid the ongoing pandemic.

Usually, presidents designate a high-ranking official to stay in a secure location as they deliver their annual address to lawmakers in case of a catastrophe at the Capitol that kills the president and Cabinet officials in attendance.

However, Biden’s speech this year will be limited to 200 lawmakers, Biden administration officials and staff due to limitations during the coronavirus pandemic. White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Tuesday that most of the president’s Cabinet will not be watching the speech in person, so a designated survivor will not be selected. 

Psaki said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff will all be in attendance.

Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is third in line for the presidency behind Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to attend Biden’s speech on Wednesday, Politico reported.

If Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen does not attend the speech, she will be the highest-ranking Cabinet member in the line of succession for the presidency not in the Capitol building during the event. 

Leahy told reporters on Tuesday that he has “got to think about” whether to attend Biden’s speech, Politico reported.

Biden will use his address to the joint session of Congress to lay out his next legislative proposal focusing on child care and education, in addition to calling for police reform and addressing the pandemic and other top issues.

“A core of that will be him laying out the specifics of the American Families Plan, his commitment to child care, to education, and to delivering on those middle class priorities,” Psaki told reporters last week.

Tags Antony Blinken Designated survivor Douglas Emhoff Janet Yellen Jen Psaki Jill Biden Joe Biden Joe Biden Kamala Harris Lloyd Austin Nancy Pelosi Patrick Leahy State of the Union

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