Later, upon addition of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, a provision was created allowing that the Vice President and "a majority of the principal officers" of the executive branch departments may transmit a notice (to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro tempore) that the President is unfit for office. If the President contests this finding, the Congress is directed to settle the matter.
United States Cabinet nominees are chosen from a large pool of potential candidates. One of the few qualification restrictions is set out in Article One of the Constitution: "no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either house during his continuance in office." Accordingly, a sitting member of the United States Congress must resign his or her seat before accepting a Cabinet appointment. Likewise, a governor appointed to a cabinet post must resign as governor. This constitutional separation between the executive and the legislative branches is distinct from the British parliamentary cabinet system, where, in most cases, members of the Cabinet are required to be sitting members of the legislature.
Under federal officials are prohibited from appointing family members to certain governmental posts, including seats on the Cabinet. Passed in 1967, the law is apparently a response to John F. Kennedy's appointment of Robert F. Kennedy to the post of Attorney General of the United States.
Traditionally, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General are the most important members of Cabinet, and form an inner circle. In recent years, the Secretary of Homeland Security has risen to a level of significance that is arguably closer to the "big four" than to the other cabinet offices.
During a meeting of the President's Cabinet, members are seated according to the order of precedence, with higher ranking officers sitting closer to the center of the table. Hence, the President and Vice President sit directly across from each other at the middle of the oval shaped table. Then, the Secretaries of State and Defense are seated directly to the right and left, respectively, of the President and the Secretary of Treasury and the Attorney General sit to right and left, respectively, of the Vice President. This alternation according to rank continues, with Cabinet-rank members (those not heading executive departments; the Vice President excluded) sitting at the very ends, farthest away from the president and vice president.
|Secretary of State||Condoleezza Rice|
|Secretary of the Treasury||Henry Paulson|
|Secretary of Defense||Robert Gates|
|Attorney General||Michael Mukasey|
|Secretary of Homeland Security||Michael Chertoff|
|Secretary of the Interior||Dirk Kempthorne|
|Secretary of Agriculture||Edward Schafer|
|Secretary of Commerce||Carlos Gutierrez|
|Secretary of Labor||Elaine Chao|
|Secretary of Health and Human Services||Michael Leavitt|
|Secretary of Housing and Urban Development||Steve Preston|
|Secretary of Transportation||Mary Peters|
|Secretary of Energy||Samuel Bodman|
|Secretary of Education||Margaret Spellings|
|Secretary of Veterans Affairs||James Peake|
|Vice President of the United States||Richard Cheney|
|White House Chief of Staff||Joshua Bolten|
|Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency||Stephen Johnson|
|Director of the Office of Management and Budget||Jim Nussle|
|Director of the National Drug Control Policy||John Walters|
|United States Trade Representative||Susan Schwab|
Level I of the Executive Schedule is the pay grade for cabinet officials. In addition to the fifteen cabinet secretaries, six positions are listed in the Level I, of which only three (Director of the OMB, Director of the National Drug Control Policy, and the U.S. Trade Representative) have cabinet-level positions. The remaining three are as follows:
|Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System||Ben Bernanke|
|Commissioner of the Social Security Administration||Michael Astrue|
|Director of National Intelligence||Mike McConnell|
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.