United States Government Chain of command

After the President and Vice president, few really know who is next in line in the order of succession. Depending on what happens during a successful attack several of the key people in the government may be dead or otherwise out of commission. So in such an event it is good to know who is number 3 and so on in the order of succession.

When it comes right down to it and who does what you will see that the number 3 spot has more power and responsibility that the number 2 Vice President. The vice President’s job is simply to hang out in Washington waiting for the President to get sick and or die, and collect a paycheck every month. Other than that the only real power the Vice President has is breaking a tie in the Senate.


The Speaker of the House of Representatives has a real job and has much more political power than the Vice President. The fact that the speaker of the house is Nancy Pelosi from California, it actually makes John McCain’s Vice President pick Sarah Palin anti climatic. Nancy Pelosi is clearly the most powerful woman in the United States on a day to day basis.

DCO Thailand

The number 4 slot goes to President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and at the moment that is Robert Byrd a Democrat from West Virginia.

The number 5 spot goes to the Secretary of State and that is Condoleezza Rice. The Secretary of State administers presidential policy abroad and does not set policy.

That means that prior to the November 2008 general elections women already hold the number 3 and 5 spots in the chain of command. The perceived glass ceiling of a woman becoming Vice President is just phantom glass, only being elected President will truly smash that glass ceiling. It also is obvious that John McCain’s reason for selecting a female running mate was just a tactical ploy to win the election. Had Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination, that would have been a significant gender based accomplishment.

The complete list is as follows:

President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
Speaker of the House of Representatives
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
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
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Homeland Security

This list is based on the 25th Amendment of the United States Constitution that was ratified in 1967.

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8 Responses to United States Government Chain of command

  1. having looked at the 25th amendment, we did not see any evidence of this list

  2. I avoid replying to posts as I want them to take on a life of their own, however in this case I will clarify. The reason this information is so hard to find is because many feel “Chain of command” is the proper search term. That is why so little comes up on a search. The correct search term that should be used is ‘order of succession’. Chain of command is more of a military term. The US government is not structured that way as each Secretary deals with different tasks. For example the Secretary of State makes peace while the Secretary of Defense makes war. If you search under that term you will find all of this less my political comments.

  3. James R Nutter says:


    If something was to happen to a president elect before taking the oath of office, how would the next president be chosen.
    Thanks Jim

  4. I think you will find that the Vice President elect would assume office and he would appoint a new Vice president subject to approval of Congress. Take a look at the Nixon, Agnew, Ford debacle and see how it was done.

  5. thanks answerd my ?

  6. I’ve been searching for this all night. Thank God for you Richard!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Wow, this was sooooo useful! THANKS!

  8. Thanks for this interesting discussion and the helpful list of the order of succession! It helped solve a heated debate at work today =} It also made us chuckle to see the actual list.