Biden will have no ‘designated survivor’ for Wednesday’s Congressional Address

In President Biden’s Congressional address this Wednesday, no ‘designated survivor’ has been named. Suppose a hypothetical disaster occurs in the Capitol. In that case, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen could become the President of the United States unless Senator Patrick Leahy skips the event and decides to stay away from the venue. On Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST, the President will be delivering an address before a joint session of Congress.

The person in the line of succession to be President who is chosen not to attend an event is called the designated survivor. In the event of a massive casualty that will kill all potential Presidential successors, the designated survivor is seated as the President. Typically, the designated survivors stay at an undisclosed location during national events. For this Wednesday’s Congressional Address, the White House did not name a designated survivor.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during Tuesday’s briefing, “There does not need to be a designated survivor because the Cabinet will be watching from their offices or their homes.” Naming a designated survivor is unnecessary since some Cabinet members and those in the Presidential line of succession will be at home or remotely viewing in their offices due to COVID-19 audience restrictions. The attendees will be expectedly sparse, and only a few of the Cabinet members have confirmed their attendance.

The White House clarified that Yellen becomes the de facto-designated survivor because the immediate successors, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Democratic Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, Senate president pro-tempore, are attending President Biden’s Congressional address.  If Sen. Patrick Leahy decided not to participate in the event in person, he would fall next in the line of succession.

It has been a tradition that during a State of the Union and other addresses by new presidents, one of the Cabinet members deliberately accosted away from the U.S. Capitol. This practice ensures the U.S. Government’s continuity when it faces an unfortunate possibility of a mass catastrophe that will wipe out the country’s leaders in the Constitution’s line of succession.