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035 What does the President’s Cabinet do?

35. What does the President’s Cabinet do?
Advises the President

Being the president of the United States is a big job and our Founding Fathers (or the people who created the U.S. government) knew that one person couldn’t do everything alone. That’s why the president has the U.S. Cabinet, usually just called the Cabinet. The Cabinet is a group of people who advise (or give advice, information, and ideas) to the president on many important issues. The president can use their advice to make decisions while leading the country. Because of this, Cabinet members have very important and powerful roles (or jobs) in U.S. government since they can influence the president’s decisions.

Under our first president, George Washington, the Cabinet was very small and it had only four members. Since then, the Cabinet has grown a lot. Today the Cabinet has 15 people, who are referred to as secretaries, such as the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Agriculture. The most recent addition to the Cabinet in 2006 is the Secretary of Homeland Security, whose job it is to keep Americans safe. The Constitution (or the country’s most important legal document) does not say how large the Cabinet should be, so Congress can add or remove members as the country’s needs change.

Cabinet members are appointed to their positions. This means that they are first nominated by the president (or the president gives the members’ name to
Congress) and then they must be confirmed (or approved) or rejected by the Senate. Almost anyone can become a Cabinet member. The only restriction or
limitation is that Cabinet members are not allowed to be Senators, Representatives, or governors simultaneously (or at the same time) while they are serving (or working) in the Cabinet.

The Cabinet members are in the line of succession (or the plan for who will become president if something happens to him or her). After the president come the vice-president, the speaker of the House, and the president of the Senate, and then the secretary of state and other members of the Cabinet, in the order of their ranking (or importance).


cabinet – a group of people who give advice, information, and ideas to the U.S. president on many important issues
* Being a cabinet member and having the president ask you for advice would be very exciting.

to advise – to give advice, information, and ideas about how another person should do something or think about something
* The career counselor advises students on how to pick a college.

secretary – one of the 15 people in the Cabinet
* The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is responsible for the National Park Service.

appointed – chosen for and given a position by someone with a lot of power
* Has a new judge been appointed yet?

to nominate – to say that one wants someone to work in a particular position or to have a particular title, prize, or award
* Who did you nominate for our team's "most valuable player" award?

to confirm – to approve a nomination; to give a position, job, or award to someone who has been nominated for it
* How many of the president's nominees were confirmed by Congress?

simultaneously – at the same time
* I don’t know how you can study, listen to music, talk on the phone, and watch TV simultaneously.

line of succession – the plan for who will become the next person to work in a particular job when the current person can no longer do the job
* What would happen if everyone in the U.S. presidential line of succession died at the same time?

ranking – importance; one's place in a list, usually from best to worst, most to least, and so on
* The the surprise of everyone, the athlete with the highest ranking didn’t win the competition.