Each week, The Spokesman-Review examines one query from the Naturalization Test immigrants should go to grow to be United States residents.
Today’s first query: What does the President’s Cabinet do? The official reply on the Naturalization Test is that it “advises the President (of the United States).”
That was simple!
Well, not so quick. While the Cabinet’s position has usually been to advise the president, its official and sensible capabilities may be exhausting to pin down and have advanced significantly over the historical past of the United States.
The president’s Cabinet truly has little foundation in the Constitution or United States legislation, with the Constitution saying that the president could “require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments,” however not essentially compelling the president to kind a Cabinet. As a end result, the Cabinet at present is generally primarily based on the precedent of former presidential administrations.
We could have our first president to thank for the institution of the Cabinet. President George Washington requested Congress to create the first three Cabinet departments – the Departments of State, War and Treasury – in 1789 and began the custom of often assembly with the division heads, known as secretaries, in 1793. The time period “Cabinet” wasn’t even used at the moment, however Washington set the precedent of in search of recommendation from Cabinet secretaries that has lasted till today.
Washington’s Cabinet, which ultimately added the place of legal professional normal to develop to 4 members, represented the stereotype of how some folks assume the Cabinet capabilities. We can think about Washington presiding over impassioned debates between Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson on coverage points like the nationwide financial institution – and that really occurred.
But over the years, the Cabinet’s position has advanced considerably in dimension and operate from Washington’s time. Which brings us to our subsequent query.
Today’s Second Question: What are two Cabinet-level positions? The Cabinet now has 15 secretaries – similar to secretary of vitality, secretary of commerce and secretary of protection – plus the vp. It additionally contains the seven positions which might be thought-about “Cabinet-rank,” similar to the White House chief of employees, head of the Small Business Administration and administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The a lot larger dimension of at present’s Cabinet can clue us into why and the way it has modified because it was created. The follow of Cabinet conferences as dialogue and coverage debate boards is defunct in fashionable occasions primarily as a result of there are too many individuals in the room for these debates to be efficient. As a end result, Cabinet conferences are sometimes few and far between, and are often no more vital than a possibility for information photographers to take photos.
“I have left orders to be awakened at any time during national emergency, even if I’m in a Cabinet meeting,” then-President Ronald Reagan famously joked.
Cabinet members do, nonetheless, play an vital position, even when the conferences are largely a relic . Each is chargeable for operating an enormous government division, similar to the EPA or Department of Defense, which has the largest funds, that implements the White House’s insurance policies. With a variety of pivotal coverage obligations falling underneath the completely different government departments, management of those departments has grow to be the most vital accountability for Cabinet members.
They additionally generally individually advise the president outdoors of conferences, however affect on the president’s coverage choices has primarily moved to White House employees in current occasions, which might grow to be a degree of battle.
“There’s always going to be conflict between the White House staff and the Cabinet because the Cabinet secretaries feel that they should be the main person advising the president on policy,” mentioned James Pfiffner, professor emeritus in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. “But in fact, it turns out that the White House staff are the main advisers.”
The White House employs a whole bunch of staffers who coordinate the insurance policies and messaging of the president, which makes it simpler for the president to stipulate and kickstart priorities than if she or he went via varied Cabinet members and their departments.
Despite an absence of affect on policymaking usually, a cupboard place generally is a nice promoting level for presidential hopefuls. Who the president nominates can also sign his or her priorities. For instance, former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly mentioned he can be nice for the economic system, nominated 5 cupboard secretaries who spent all or almost all their careers in the enterprise world.
On the different hand, President Joe Biden on the marketing campaign path promised to appoint “the most diverse Cabinet in history.”
If all Biden’s nominations are confirmed, the president can have extra ladies and folks of shade in his Cabinet than some other president. So far, the Senate has confirmed seven out of 23 of Biden’s nominations.
To be confirmed, Cabinet members should testify at Senate affirmation hearings the place they are questioned by senators on related committees. If the committees vote to ship the nomination to the full Senate, the nominee must win a easy majority of senators to be confirmed. Notable confirmations to this point embody former Democratic presidential nominee and first overtly homosexual Cabinet member Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary, Obama administration veteran Antony Blinken as secretary of state and American economist Janet Yellen as treasury secretary.