Here is a breakdown of all the Cabinet positions and what they do (2024)

When he's not holding rallies as part of his "thank you" tour, President-elect Donald Trumpis working on his transition into the White House. A big part of that is choosing his Cabinet, the group of advisers who will helm executive departments and have his ear in the West Wing.

The Cabinet, which was established in Article II, section two of the Constitution, dates back to George Washington's administration. Back then, it was a four-member council comprised of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox and Attorney General Edmund Randolph. Since that time, the Cabinet has grown, and its officials now have a hand in everything from the creation of the food stamp programto the International Monetary Fund and World Bankto the Environmental Protection Agency.

Today, the Cabinet is comprised of the vice president and 15 department heads, as well as a handful of Cabinet-level positions, such as White House chief of staff.

Below are the Cabinet positions and their responsibilities, listed in order of succession to the Presidency:

Vice President of the United States

Originally, the Vice President's main job was to preside over the Senate. But beginning in the 1970s, the Vice President's powers grew. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, is considered to have had a large role in shaping George W. Bush's foreign policy. Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pencewill take over the office from Joe Biden when Trump is inaugurated in January.

Secretary of State

Thesecretary of state serves as the President's main adviser on foreign policy issues, negotiates treaties and represents the U.S. at the United Nations. Trump has yet to say who will replace current Secretary of State John Kerry in his administration, but former Republican presidential candidateMitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen.Bob Corkerand retired General and former CIA Director David Petraeus are reportedlyunder consideration, though the New York Times reported Sunday that Trump is still interviewing candidates, so that list may still grow.

Secretary of the Treasury

Thesecretary of the treasury is in charge of the administration's financial and economic policies. Trump named hedge fund manager and movie financier Steven Mnuchin as his replacement for current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

Secretary of Defense

Thesecretary of defense is the president's adviser on military and international security policy. James "Mad Dog" Mattis is Trump's pick to fill the role, which is currently occupied by Ash Carter.

United States Attorney General

Dubbed the "pople's lawyer," the attorney general helms the United States Department of Justice and advises the president on legal matters. The position is currently held by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Trump has picked Sen. Jeff Sessionsto fill the role.

Secretary of the Interior

Known to some as the "department of everything else,"the DOI "protects America's natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communitiesand supplies the energy to power our future" and is currently headed by Secretary Sally Jewell. Trump has yet to name his pick, but the drilling advocates on his short list — which apparently includes former Vice-presidential candidateand Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — have environmental activists concerned.

Secretary of Agriculture

Thomas J. Vilsack currently heads the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees policies relating to food, agriculture and rural development. No word yet on who will fill that role in Trump's administration, but one of the names Trump has mentioned is Sid Miller, the Texas agriculture commissioner and Trump adviser who once called Hillary Clintona "cunt" on Twitter.

Secretary of Commerce

As the department's mission statement puts it: "The Secretary of Commerce serves as the voice of U.S. business within the President's Cabinet." Businesswoman Penny Pritzker currently serves in the role, forwhich Trump has tapped billionaire investor and longtime Trump business associate Wilbur Ross Jr.

Secretary of Labor

Thomas E. Perez is the current United States Secretary of Laborand is tasked with overseeing the welfare of U.S. workers. Trump has yet to officially announce his choice, but reports indicate that he is considering Obama-critic Andrew Puzder, the CEO of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent company CKE Restaurants.

Secretary of Health and Human Services

TheDepartment of Health and Human Services oversees all health-related policy. Trump has tapped Rep. Tom Price, a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act, to replace current Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Earlier this week, Trump announced the nomination of one of his former Republican presidential primary opponents, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, despite his lack of formal qualifications. In that role, he will take over for Julian Castro as the president's adviser on issues relating to housing and cities, including homelessness, sustainability and equal opportunity.

Secretary of Transportation

TheDepartment of Transportationsecretary became an official Cabinet post in 1967. Trump has chosen former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to head the department — which is currently under the guidance of Secretary Anthony Foxx — in what some have described as one of Trump's more conventional picks.

Secretary of Energy

According to its mission statement, the Energy Department seeks to "ensureAmerica's security andprosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges throughtransformative science and technology solutions." The current secretary of energy is Ernest Moniz; Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative democrat, is reportedly under consideration for the role inTrump's administration.

Secretary of Education

Trump's selection of Betsy DeVos, a republican donor and so-called "school choice" advocate, has been met with significant criticism. DeVos, who would be Trump's primary voice on educational policy, is considered the face of a struggling school system in her native Michigan. The department is currently run by Secretary John King.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Trump has promised to "fix" the VA, which is currently run by Secretary Robert McDonald. But some veterans advocates worry that the incoming Trump administration will gut the department, which is tasked with providing assistance to military veterans. Reports that Sarah Palin and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are under consideration for the role add to concerns that the new administration will privatize the VA.

Secretary of Homeland Security

One of the central tenets of Trump's presidential campaign was immigration. His calls to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, to conduct massive deportations of undocumented immigrants and to halt immigration from Muslim countries were among his signature tunes atcampaign rallies. That potentially makes the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created in the wake of September 11th, one of the most significant roles in the Trump administration. The agency, which focuses on terrorism, national security and the enforcement of immigration laws, is currently headed by Secretary Jeh Johnson. Trump has yet to officially announce his secretary of homeland security pick, but Politico reported that top Trump aides have mentioned retired Marine General John Kelly as the top candidate. Far-right Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarkeis also reportedlyunder consideration.

Cabinet-level positions

There are currently seven positions that are not considered to be an official part of the president's Cabinet, but that have Cabinet-level rankings. They are: the White House chief of staff, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the United States Trade representative, the United States mission to the United Nations, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and the head of the Small Business Administration.

On Nov. 13, Trump named Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus chief of staff.

Correction: Dec. 7, 2016

Here is a breakdown of all the Cabinet positions and what they do (2024)


What are the cabinet positions and what do they do? ›

The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the ...

What were the 4 cabinet positions and who held them? ›

While the current presidential cabinet includes sixteen members, George Washington's cabinet included just four original members: Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph.

What are the 4 cabinet positions? ›

Vice president and the heads of the executive departments
Office (Constituting instrument)Incumbent
Secretary of State (22 U.S.C. § 2651a)Antony Blinken
Secretary of the Treasury (31 U.S.C. § 301)Janet Yellen
Secretary of Defense (10 U.S.C. § 113)Lloyd Austin
Attorney General (28 U.S.C. § 503)Merrick Garland
12 more rows

What is the order of the cabinet positions? ›

The following list is written in the order of seniority of the office - Presidential succession also follows this order!
  • Secretary of State. ...
  • Secretary of the Treasury. ...
  • Secretary of Defense. ...
  • Attorney General. ...
  • Secretary of the Interior. ...
  • Secretary of Agriculture. ...
  • Secretary of Commerce. ...
  • Secretary of Labor.

What are the three main functions of the cabinet? ›

directing government policy and making decisions about national issues. spending a lot of time discussing current national problems and how these can be solved. presenting bills – proposed laws – from their government departments.

Which describes the cabinet members? ›

The members of the president's cabinet are appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate. The Twenty-fifth Amendment describes them as “the principal officers of the executive departments,” but significant power has flowed to non-cabinet-level presidential aides.

Who were the first 4 cabinet members? ›

In selecting the four members of his first cabinet—Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state, Alexander Hamilton as secretary of treasury, Henry Knox as secretary of war, and Edmund Randolph as attorney general—Washington balanced the two parties evenly.

How many cabinet positions are there? ›

The Cabinet is an advisory body made up of the heads of the 15 executive departments. Appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the members of the Cabinet are often the President's closest confidants.

How many departments are in the cabinet? ›

President Joe Biden's Cabinet includes Vice President Kamala Harris and the heads of the 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and ...

Which four cabinet positions are said to be the most important? ›

Andrew Rudalevige, a professor of government at Bowdoin College in Maine, explained that the four original Cabinet posts—Defense, State, Treasury and Attorney General—remain the most important and are sometimes referred to as the “inner Cabinet.” “They get the best seats at the Cabinet table, and the people who are ...

What are 5 responsibilities of the President? ›

Keeping the Balance: What a President Can Do and Cannot Do
  • make treaties with the approval of the Senate.
  • veto bills and sign bills.
  • represent our nation in talks with foreign countries.
  • enforce the laws that Congress passes.
  • act as Commander-in-Chief during a war.

What are the 4 requirements to be president? ›

Candidates for president must:
  • Be a natural-born citizen of the United States.
  • Be at least 35 years old.
  • Have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.
Jun 15, 2023

What were the first five cabinet departments? ›

George Washington appointed the first executive department heads in 1789. They were the attorney general, secretary of state, secretary of treasury, and secretary of war. As the scope and functions of the federal government grew, the number of executive departments increased.

What cabinet positions came first? ›

However, Article Two, Section Two of the U.S. Constitution does give the president the power to seek the opinion of executive department officers. The first executive departments established by Congress in 1789 were the Department of State, Department of Treasury, and Department of War.

What are the first four cabinet positions that take over in the process of succession? ›

Current order of succession
1Vice PresidentKamala Harris
2Speaker of the House of RepresentativesKevin McCarthy
3President pro tempore of the SenatePatty Murray
4Secretary of StateAntony Blinken
14 more rows

What do the 15 cabinet departments do? ›

Fifteen executive departments — each led by an appointed member of the President's Cabinet — carry out the day-to-day administration of the federal government.

What are the 15 cabinet departments in order of creation? ›

Order of Establishment of the Executive Departments
Rank*YearExecutive Departments
11789Department of State
21789Department of the Treasury
31789 1947Department of War Department of Defense (merger of War and Navy departments)
41789 1870Attorney General Department of Justice
15 more rows

What are the 2 cabinet level positions? ›

Cabinet-level positions include the secretary of state and the secretary of labor. The secretary of state works with other countries around the world. This person manages the president's foreign policies. The secretary of labor manages working conditions, wages, and unemployment benefits.

What is the role of the President's cabinet quizlet? ›

The cabinet is an advice-giving group selected by the president to aid him in making decisions, membership of which is determined both by tradition and by presidential discretion. By tradition, it is made up of the heads of the fifteen executive departments.


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