No designated survivor: Key changes for Biden’s speech to Congress amid COVID

No designated survivor: Key changes for Biden’s speech to Congress amid COVID


There won’t be a designated survivor selected from President Biden’s cabinet to sit out his first speech to Congress on Wednesday — discontinuing a typically buzzy choice for the person to lead the free world if the Capitol is attacked mid-speech.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday the decision was rendered unnecessary because only two of Biden’s 15 cabinet secretaries will attend the pandemic-limited event in the House of Representatives.

A 1947 law says that if the president and vice president both die, the House speaker — currently Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — becomes president. Pelosi is expected to attend Biden’s speech.

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Third in line is the Senate president pro tempore, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). It’s unclear if Leahy, 81, will attend due to a COVID-19-driven cap of approximately 200 attendees, which will allow only about 60 of 100 senators to attend.

Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken — fourth in line of succession — will attend

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