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Cabinet of the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cabinet of the United States
FormationMarch 4, 1789
(234 years ago)
Legal statusInferred (Opinion Clause)
PurposeAdvisory body to the president of the United States
Joe Biden
24 members (not counting the VP):

The Cabinet of the United States is a body consisting of the vice president of the United States and the heads of the executive branch's departments in the federal government of the United States. It is the principal official advisory body to the president of the United States. The president chairs the meetings but is not formally a member of the Cabinet. The heads of departments, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, are members of the Cabinet, and acting department heads also participate in Cabinet meetings whether or not they have been officially nominated for Senate confirmation. The president may designate heads of other agencies and non-Senate-confirmed members of the Executive Office of the President as members of the Cabinet.

The Cabinet does not have any collective executive powers or functions of its own, and no votes need to be taken. There are 24 members (25 including the vice president): 15 department heads and nine Cabinet-level members, all of whom, except two, require Senate confirmation. The Cabinet meets with the president in a room adjacent to the Oval Office. The members sit in the order in which their respective department was created, with the earliest being closest to the president and the newest farthest away.[1]

The members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the president, who can dismiss them at any time without the approval of the Senate, as affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in Myers v. United States (1926) or downgrade their Cabinet membership status. Often it is legally possible for a Cabinet member to exercise certain powers over his or her own department against the president's wishes, but in practice this is highly unusual due to the threat of dismissal. The president also has the authority to organize the Cabinet, such as instituting committees. Like all federal public officials, Cabinet members are also subject to impeachment by the House of Representatives and trial in the Senate for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors".

The Constitution of the United States does not explicitly establish a Cabinet. The Cabinet's role, inferred from the language of the Opinion Clause (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) of the Constitution is to provide advice to the president. Additionally, the Twenty-fifth Amendment authorizes the vice president, together with a majority of the heads of the executive departments, to declare the president "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office". The heads of the executive departments are—if eligible—in the presidential line of succession.

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James K. Polk and his Cabinet in 1846: the first Cabinet to be photographed.
James K. Polk and his Cabinet in 1846: the first Cabinet to be photographed.

The tradition of the Cabinet arose out of the debates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention regarding whether the president would exercise executive authority solely or collaboratively with a cabinet of ministers or a privy council. As a result of the debates, the Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 1) vests "all executive power" in the president singly, and authorizes—but does not compel—the president (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) to "require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices".[2][3] The Constitution does not specify what the executive departments will be, how many there will be, or what their duties will be.

George Washington, the first president of the United States, organized his principal officers into a Cabinet, and it has been part of the executive branch structure ever since. Washington's Cabinet consisted of five members: himself, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox and Attorney General Edmund Randolph. Vice President John Adams was not included in Washington's Cabinet because the position was initially regarded as a legislative officer (president of the Senate).[4] Furthermore, until there was a vacancy in the presidency (which did not occur until the death of William Henry Harrison in 1841) it was not certain that a vice president would be allowed to serve as president for the duration of the original term as opposed to merely acting as president until new elections could be held. It was not until the 20th century that vice presidents were regularly included as members of the Cabinet and came to be regarded primarily as a member of the executive branch.

Presidents have used Cabinet meetings of selected principal officers but to widely differing extents and for different purposes. During President Abraham Lincoln's administration, Secretary of State William H. Seward advocated the use of a parliamentary-style Cabinet government. However, Lincoln rebuffed Seward. While a professor Woodrow Wilson also advocated a parliamentary-style Cabinet, but after becoming president did not implement it in his administration. In recent administrations, Cabinets have grown to include key White House staff in addition to department and various agency heads. President Ronald Reagan formed seven sub-cabinet councils to review many policy issues, and subsequent presidents have followed that practice.[3]

Federal law

In 3 U.S.C. § 302 with regard to delegation of authority by the president, it is provided that "nothing herein shall be deemed to require express authorization in any case in which such an official would be presumed in law to have acted by authority or direction of the president." This pertains directly to the heads of the executive departments as each of their offices is created and specified by statutory law (hence the presumption) and thus gives them the authority to act for the president within their areas of responsibility without any specific delegation.

Under 5 U.S.C. § 3110 (also known as the 1967 Federal Anti-Nepotism statute), federal officials are prohibited from appointing their immediate family members to certain governmental positions, including those in the Cabinet.[5]

Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, an administration may appoint acting heads of department from employees of the relevant department. These may be existing high-level career employees, from political appointees of the outgoing administration (for new administrations), or sometimes lower-level appointees of the administration.[6]

Confirmation process

A map showing the historical makeup of the Cabinet of the United States by year.
A map showing the historical makeup of the Cabinet of the United States by year.

The heads of the executive departments and all other federal agency heads are nominated by the president and then presented to the Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority (although before the use of the "nuclear option" during the 113th United States Congress, they could have been blocked by filibuster, requiring cloture to be invoked by 35 supermajority to further consideration). If approved, they receive their commission scroll, are sworn in, and begin their duties. When the Senate is not in session, the president can appoint acting heads of the executive departments, and do so at the beginning of their term.

An elected vice president does not require Senate confirmation, nor does the White House chief of staff, which is an appointed staff position of the Executive Office of the President.

Office Senate confirmation review committee
Secretary of State Foreign Relations Committee
Secretary of the Treasury Finance Committee
Secretary of Defense Armed Services Committee
Attorney General Judiciary Committee
Secretary of the Interior Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Secretary of Agriculture Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee
Secretary of Commerce Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Secretary of Labor Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
Secretary of Health and Human Services Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (consult)
Finance Committee (official)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee
Secretary of Transportation Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Secretary of Energy Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Secretary of Education Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Veterans Affairs Committee
Secretary of Homeland Security Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Trade Representative Finance Committee
Director of National Intelligence Select Committee on Intelligence
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Budget Committee
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Environment and Public Works Committee
Administrator of the Small Business Administration Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee


The heads of the executive departments and most other senior federal officers at cabinet or sub-cabinet level receive their salary under a fixed five-level pay plan known as the Executive Schedule, which is codified in Title 5 of the United States Code. Twenty-one positions, including the heads of the executive departments and others, receiving Level I pay are listed in 5 U.S.C. § 5312, and those forty-six positions on Level II pay (including the number two positions of the executive departments) are listed in 5 U.S.C. § 5313. As of January 2023, the Level I annual pay was set at $235,600.

The annual salary of the vice president is $235,300.[7] The salary level was set by the Government Salary Reform Act of 1989, which provides an automatic cost of living adjustment for federal employees. The vice president receives the same pension as other members of Congress based on their ex officio position as the president of the Senate.[8]

Current Cabinet and Cabinet-rank officials

The individuals listed below were nominated by President Joe Biden to form his Cabinet and were confirmed by the United States Senate on the date noted or are serving as acting department heads by his request, pending the confirmation of his nominees.

Vice president and the heads of the executive departments

The Cabinet permanently includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments, listed here according to their order of succession to the presidency. The speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate follow the vice president and precede the secretary of state in the order of succession, but both are in the legislative branch and are not part of the Cabinet.

(Constituting instrument)
Incumbent Took office
Seal of the Vice President of the United States.svg

Vice President
(Constitution, Article II, Section I)
Kamala Harris Vice Presidential Portrait (cropped).jpg

Kamala Harris
January 20, 2021
Seal of the United States Secretary of State.svg

Secretary of State
(22 U.S.C. § 2651a)
Secretary Blinken's Official Department Photo (cropped).jpg

Antony Blinken
January 26, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury.svg

Secretary of the Treasury
(31 U.S.C. § 301)
Secretary Janet Yellen portrait (cropped).jpg

Janet Yellen
January 26, 2021
US Department of Defense seal.svg

Secretary of Defense
(10 U.S.C. § 113)
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III (50885754687) (cropped).jpg

Lloyd Austin
January 22, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of Justice.svg

Attorney General
(28 U.S.C. § 503)
Attorney General Merrick Garland (cropped).jpg

Merrick Garland
March 11, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of the Interior.svg

Secretary of the Interior
(43 U.S.C. § 1451)
Secretary Deb Haaland, official headshot.jpg

Deb Haaland
March 16, 2021
US Department of Agriculture seal.svg

Secretary of Agriculture
(7 U.S.C. § 2202)
20210427-OSEC-TEW-001 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (51148817903) (cropped).jpg

Tom Vilsack
February 24, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of Commerce.svg

Secretary of Commerce
(15 U.S.C. § 1501)
Gina Raimondo (cropped 2).jpg

Gina Raimondo
March 3, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of Labor.svg

Secretary of Labor
(29 U.S.C. § 551)
Julie Su Portrait (cropped).jpg

Julie Su
March 11, 2023
US Department of Health and Human Services seal.svg

Secretary of Health and Human Services
(Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953,
67 Stat. 631 and 42 U.S.C. § 3501)
HHS Xavier Becerra (cropped).jpg

Xavier Becerra
March 19, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.svg

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
(42 U.S.C. § 3532)
Secretary Fudge official photo (cropped).png

Marcia Fudge
March 10, 2021
United States Department of Transportation seal.svg

Secretary of Transportation
(49 U.S.C. § 102)
Pete Buttigieg official photo (cropped).jpg

Pete Buttigieg
February 3, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of Energy.svg

Secretary of Energy
(42 U.S.C. § 7131)
Secretary Jennifer Granholm

Jennifer Granholm
February 25, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of Education.svg

Secretary of Education
(20 U.S.C. § 3411)
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, official portrait (cropped).jpg

Miguel Cardona
March 2, 2021
Seal of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.svg

Secretary of Veterans Affairs
(38 U.S.C. § 303)
Secretary McDonough, official photo (cropped).jpg

Denis McDonough
February 9, 2021
Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg

Secretary of Homeland Security
(6 U.S.C. § 112)
Secretary Mayorkas Official Photo (cropped).jpg

Alejandro Mayorkas
February 2, 2021

Cabinet-level officials

The president may designate additional positions to be members of the Cabinet, which can vary under each president. They are not in the line of succession and are not necessarily officers of the United States.[9]

Cabinet-level officials
Office Incumbent Term began
Seal of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.svg

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
(5 U.S.C. § 906, Executive Order 11735)
Michael S. Regan official photo (cropped).jpg

Michael S. Regan
March 11, 2021

Director of the Office of Management and Budget
(31 U.S.C. § 502, Executive Order 11541,
Executive Order 11609, Executive Order 11717)
Shalanda Young, OMB Deputy Director.jpg

Shalanda Young
March 24, 2021
Seal of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.svg

Director of National Intelligence
(50 U.S.C. § 3023)
Avril-Haines (cropped).jpg

Avril Haines
January 21, 2021

Trade Representative
(19 U.S.C. § 2171)
Katherine Tai, official portrait (cropped).jpg

Katherine Tai
March 18, 2021
U.S. Department of State official seal.svg

Ambassador to the United Nations
(22 U.S.C. § 287)
Linda-Thomas-Greenfield-v1-8x10-1 (cropped).jpg

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
February 25, 2021
Council of Economic Advisers.png

Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
(15 U.S.C. § 1023)
Vacant March 31, 2023
Seal of the United States Small Business Administration.svg

Administrator of the Small Business Administration
(15 U.S.C. § 633)
Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator.png

Isabel Guzman
March 17, 2021

Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
(42 U.S.C. § 6612)
Dr. Arati Prabhakar by Sun L. Vega, 2015.jpg

Arati Prabhakar
October 3, 2022
Seal of the Executive Office of the President of the United States 2014.svg

White House Chief of Staff
(Pub. L. 76–19, 53 Stat. 561, enacted April 3, 1939,
Executive Order 8248, Executive Order 10452,
Executive Order 12608)
Jeff Zients, WHCOS.jpg

Jeff Zients
February 7, 2023

Former executive and Cabinet-level departments

Renamed heads of the executive departments

Positions intermittently elevated to Cabinet-rank

Proposed Cabinet departments

See also


  1. ^ "Cabinet Room—White House Museum". Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  2. ^ Prakash, Sai. "Essays on Article II:Executive Vesting Clause". The Heritage Guide to The Constitution. The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Gaziano, Todd. "Essays on Article II: Opinion Clause". The Heritage Guide to The Constitution. The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  4. ^ "John Adams · George Washington's Mount Vernon". Archived from the original on May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  5. ^ Wulwick, Richard P.; Macchiarola, Frank J. (1995). "Congressional Interference With The President's Power To Appoint" (PDF). Stetson Law Review. XXIV: 625–652. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  6. ^ Pierce, Olga (January 22, 2009). "Who Runs Departments Before Heads Are Confirmed?". ProPublica. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Obama, Barack (December 19, 2014). "Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay" (PDF). Executive Order 13686. The White House. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  8. ^ Purcell, Patrick J. (January 21, 2005). "Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 3, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  9. ^ The White House. "The Cabinet". Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  10. ^ The office of Secretary of Foreign Affairs existed under the Articles of Confederation from October 20, 1781, to March 3, 1789, the day before the Constitution came into force.
  11. ^ "Clayton Yeutter's Obituary". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 31, 2018.
  12. ^ Tenet, George (2007). At the Center of the Storm. London: HarperCollins. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-06-114778-4. Under President Clinton, I was a Cabinet member—a legacy of John Deutch's requirement when he took the job as DCI—but my contacts with the president, while always interesting, were sporadic. I could see him as often as I wanted but was not on a regular schedule. Under President Bush, the DCI lost its Cabinet-level status.
  13. ^ Schoenfeld, Gabriel (July–August 2007). "The CIA Follies (Cont'd.)". Commentary. Retrieved May 22, 2009. Though he was to lose the Cabinet rank he had enjoyed under Clinton, he came to enjoy "extraordinary access" to the new President, who made it plain that he wanted to be briefed every day.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Sciolino, Elaine (September 29, 1996). "C.I.A. Chief Charts His Own Course". New York Times. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2009. It is no secret that Mr. Deutch initially turned down the intelligence position, and was rewarded for taking it by getting Cabinet rank.
  15. ^ Clinton, Bill (July 1, 1993). "Remarks by the President and Lee Brown, Director of Office of National Drug Control Policy". White House. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2009. We are here today to install a uniquely qualified person to lead our nation's effort in the fight against illegal drugs and what they do to our children, to our streets, and to our communities. And to do it for the first time from a position sitting in the President's Cabinet.
  16. ^ Cook, Dave (March 11, 2009). "New drug czar gets lower rank, promise of higher visibility". Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on March 15, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009. For one thing, in the Obama administration the Drug Czar will not have Cabinet status, as the job did during George W. Bush's administration.
  17. ^ "President Clinton Raises FEMA Director to Cabinet Status" (Press release). Federal Emergency Management Agency. February 26, 1996. Archived from the original on January 16, 1997. Retrieved May 22, 2009.
  18. ^ Fowler, Daniel (November 19, 2008). "Emergency Managers Make It Official: They Want FEMA Out of DHS". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on November 29, 2008. Retrieved March 3, 2010. During the Clinton administration, FEMA Administrator James Lee Witt met with the Cabinet. His successor in the Bush administration, Joe M. Allbaugh, did not.(Archived March 3, 2010, by WebCite at
  19. ^ "A Department of Commerce". The New York Times. May 13, 1881.
  20. ^ Improving Management and Organization in Federal Natural Resources and Environmental Functions: Hearing Before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, U. S. Senate. Diane Publishing. April 1, 1998. ISBN 9780788148743. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2017 – via Google Books. Chairman Stevens. Thank you very much. I think both of you are really pointing in the same direction as this Committee. I do hope we can keep it on a bipartisan basis. Mr. Dean, when I was at the Interior Department, I drafted Eisenhower's Department of Natural Resources proposal, and we have had a series of them that have been presented.
  21. ^ a b c "116—Special Message to the Congress on Executive Branch Reorganization". The University of California, Santa Barbara—The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. The administration is today transmitting to the Congress four bills which, if enacted, would replace seven of the present executive departments and several other agencies with four new departments: the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Community Development, the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Economic Affairs.
  22. ^ "Republican Party Platform of 1976". The University of California, Santa Barbara—The American Presidency Project. August 18, 1976. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  23. ^ Thrush, Glenn (November 8, 2013). "Locked in the Cabinet". Politico. Archived from the original on November 17, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  24. ^ Schuman, Frederick L. (1969). Why a Department of Peace. Beverly Hills: Another Mother for Peace. p. 56. OCLC 339785.
  25. ^ "History of Legislation to Create a Dept. of Peace". Archived from the original on July 20, 2006.
  26. ^ a b c "10—Summary of the Report of the Committee on Administrative Management". The University of California, Santa Barbara—The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 13, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. Overhaul the more than 100 separate departments, boards, commissions, administrations, authorities, corporations, committees, agencies and activities which are now parts of the Executive Branch, and theoretically under the President, and consolidate them within twelve regular departments, which would include the existing ten departments and two new departments, a Department of Social Welfare, and a Department of Public Works. Change the name of the Department of Interior to Department of Conservation.
  27. ^ "23—Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Reorganization Plan 1 of 1962". The University of California, Santa Barbara—The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  28. ^ "121–Special Message to the Congress: The Quality of American Government". The University of California, Santa Barbara—The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. In my State of the Union Address, and later in my Budget and Economic Messages to the Congress, I proposed the creation of a new Department of Business and Labor.
  29. ^ "33—Special Message to the Congress on Rural Development". The University of California, Santa Barbara—The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  30. ^ "116—Special Message to the Congress on Executive Branch Reorganization". The University of California, Santa Barbara—The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. The new Department of Economic Affairs would include many of the offices that are now within the Departments of Commerce, Labor and Agriculture. A large part of the Department of Transportation would also be relocated here, including the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Railroad Administration, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Systems Center, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Motor Carrier Safety Bureau and most of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Small Business Administration, the Science Information Exchange program from the Smithsonian Institution, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Office of Technology Utilization from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would also be included in the new Department.
  31. ^ "Public Notes on 02-RMSP3". Archived from the original on June 13, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  32. ^ "A Conversation with Michael McConnell". Council on Foreign Relations (Federal News Service, rush transcript). June 29, 2007. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  33. ^ "Time for a Cabinet-Level U.S. Department of Global Development". The Center for Global Development. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  34. ^ Clarke, Jr., John (January 16, 2009). "Quincy Jones Lobbies Obama for Secretary of Culture Post". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2010.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  35. ^ "President Obama Announces proposal to reform, reorganize and consolidate Government". Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017 – via National Archives.
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  37. ^ "White House Proposes Merging Education And Labor Departments". Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  38. ^ "Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century | Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations" (PDF). 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 12, 2019.
  39. ^ Warren, Team (June 4, 2019). "A Plan For Economic Patriotism". Medium. Archived from the original on July 31, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  40. ^ "Regulate AI and other Emerging Technologies". Andrew Yang for President. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  41. ^ Garber, Megan (July 1, 2013). "Should the U.S. Have a Secretary of Culture?". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  42. ^ "Hey Joe—appoint a culture secretary". November 16, 2020. Retrieved January 22, 2021.

Further reading

  • Bennett, Anthony. The American President's Cabinet. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1996. ISBN 0-333-60691-4. A study of the U.S. Cabinet from Kennedy to Clinton.
  • Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO; three volumes, 2000; reprint, New York: Greyhouse Publishing; two volumes, 2010). A history of the United States and Confederate States Cabinets, their secretaries, and their departments.
  • Rudalevige, Andrew. "The President and the Cabinet", in Michael Nelson, ed., The Presidency and the Political System, 8th ed. (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2006).

External links

This page was last edited on 3 April 2023, at 21:29
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