Rick Perry named 'designated survivor' for State of the Union address

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Last year Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was selected for the role, which is only open to Senate-confirmed secretaries who are also natural-born US citizens.

Trump didn't have as many options as usual this year.

Of the 15 executive department heads specified under the law as being eligible, three are now headed by acting leadership, and another is constitutionally ineligible.

"It's crystal clear that to be in that line of succession, the Cabinet officer must be Senate-confirmed", said Nina Mendelson, a professor of law at the University of MI. And naturally, the Internet had some fun, with many folks on Twitter using the occasion to share old GIFs of Perry's good-natured but sometimes cringe-worthy appearances on Dancing with the Stars. Shanahan and Bernhardt have been confirmed as deputy secretaries, but not to their current acting posts.

Perry, Texas' second-longest-serving governor, was a onetime political rival to Trump.

One cabinet member, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is ineligible under the constitution because she was not a US citizen at birth.

The president picks one Cabinet member each year to be the "designated survivor" during the State of the Union address in case a disaster or attack incapacitates the top government officials gathered at the Capitol.

The tradition of keeping at least one cabinet member away from the State of the Union Address has been explored by the world of entertainment.

He would also try not to ask a Cabinet official to sit out a speech a couple of times, and Lu said he wanted to showcase the gender diversity of the Obama Cabinet, so a woman did not serve as designated survivor during Obama's speeches.