General Question

TheKitchenSink's avatar

What's the chain of command for death of the president?

Asked by TheKitchenSink (433 points ) November 30th, 2008

I know it goes VP and then Speaker of the House. But then who takes the Speaker of the House’s position? Than then who takes that person’s position? Does eventually the janitor become a secretary? :P

Last I knew it wasn’t actually documented, but I know the president has died in office before. Did nobody fill the VP’s spot? Is there just an empty role?

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9 Answers

jtvoar16's avatar

I know someone always has to fill every roll in the government, but how they do that exactly I don’t know. I would assume every just gets bumped up a notch, that would be easy, but then again, we are talking about our government!

I hope we get someone to answer with something better then my response and more intellectual too.

lefteh's avatar

The 25th Amendment provides for the filling of a vacant VP slot. Essentially, the new president nominates a VP who then has to be confirmed by the Senate. As far as Speaker of the House, the majority party would elect another speaker.

Also, the entire line of succession can be found here.

jtvoar16's avatar

It’s scary to think that at some point in history someone thought that we would have need to maintain a chain-of-command down to a 16th position. Some of those positions I have never heard of and they are supposed to be the president… you know… if 8 other people die ahead of them…

artificialard's avatar

I assume you’re asking about the US?

That order of who becomes the president in the event of the current president’s incapacity to fulfill the role is called the line of succession.

According to the Wikipedia article this is the order of based on current legislation:

1 Vice President and President of the Senate—Dick Cheney
2 Speaker of the House of Representatives—Nancy Pelosi
3 President pro tempore of the Senate—Robert Byrd
4 Secretary of State—Condoleezza Rice
5 Secretary of the Treasury—Henry Paulson
6 Secretary of Defense—Robert Gates
7 Attorney General—Michael Mukasey
8 Secretary of the Interior—Dirk Kempthorne
9 Secretary of Agriculture—Ed Schafer
— Secretary of Commerce—Carlos Gutierrez (non-natural)†
— Secretary of Labor—Elaine Chao (non-natural)†
10 Secretary of Health and Human Services—Mike Leavitt
11 Secretary of Housing and Urban Development—Steve Preston
12 Secretary of Transportation—Mary Peters
13 Secretary of Energy—Samuel Bodman
14 Secretary of Education—Margaret Spellings
15 Secretary of Veterans Affairs—James Peake
16 Secretary of Homeland Security—Michael Chertoff

† Non-natural born citizens (who are these indicated cabinet members) are ineligible to serve as the president.

If there’s any sort of calamity that has rendered the above members of government unable to serve as president I think it’s just presumed that there’s no point in naming additional staff as the current administration would likely be unable to function. Thus the whole law of succession wouldn’t be enforceable or valid.

fireside's avatar

So the next step after President Chertoff is martial law?
49 more days and counting

TheKitchenSink's avatar

Well, kind of no. I mean, if the president gets killed, the VP becomes president, and I assume Speaker of the House becomes VP. Is that so? If so, who becomes the Speaker of the house? Etc. If it works exactly like that, then then next one on the list will, but then who fills the role of the Secretary of Homeland Security?

jtvoar16's avatar

From the sounds of Wikipedia, Anyone who takes the role of President chooses a new VP and then the VP selects the other replacements, or the senate, which, in theory should nullify the above table… Or would it just restart come to think of it…

Wow, I just realized, some really terrible poop would have to hit the fan-blades in order for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take lead. After he took lead, he would have to elect a new VP, then they would have to fill 13 other rolls in-order to restore balance!

lefteh's avatar

“Well, kind of no. I mean, if the president gets killed, the VP becomes president, and I assume Speaker of the House becomes VP. Is that so? If so, who becomes the Speaker of the house? Etc. If it works exactly like that, then then next one on the list will, but then who fills the role of the Secretary of Homeland Security?”

Like I said earlier, the new president will appoint his or her own VP, who has to be confirmed by the Senate. This is not necessarily (and probably not) the Speaker of the House. If the Speaker of the House becomes president, the House will elect a new Speaker. The new president has the authority to fill any vacant cabinet posts with the confirmation of the Senate. It is not a “bump up one spot” system. Only the presidency is automatically ascended to. All other positions are either appointed or elected by a house of Congress.

Trustinglife's avatar

Well, that’s smart – it doesn’t really matter who the president is, anyway.~

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