Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

036 What are two Cabinet-level positions?

36. What are two Cabinet-level positions?
• Secretary of Agriculture • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
• Secretary of Commerce • Secretary of Defense
• Secretary of Interior • Secretary of Education
• Secretary of State • Secretary of Energy
• Secretary of Transportation • Secretary of Health and Human
• Secretary of Treasury Services • Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs
• Secretary of Homeland Security • Secretary of Labor
• Attorney General

The U.S. Cabinet (or the group of people who advise the president, giving him or her ideas, advice, and information) has grown a lot over time. Under our first
president, George Washington, the Cabinet had only four members: the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War, and Attorney
General. Today, the Cabinet has 15 members. However, not all 15 are equally important. Some have much more power than others.

The four most important Cabinet members are the same ones that George Washington had, although their titles (or the names of their jobs) have changed
a little bit. These four most important members are known as the “Big Four” and are the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of
Defense, and the Attorney General.

The Secretary of State is responsible for foreign affairs (or relationships between the United States and other countries). The Secretary of State
negotiates (or discusses) international agreements and gives instructions to U.S. ambassadors (or official representatives of the United States in other

The Secretary of the Treasury mostly works with finance, economics, and money. He or she recommends what the president should do to keep the U.S.
economy strong. The Secretary’s signature is on all of the United States’ monetary bills (or paper money).

The Secretary of Defense, who used to be known as the Secretary of War, works with the military (or the people and organizations who fight to protect the United States).

Finally, the last member of the Big Four, the Attorney General, serves as the United States’ most important lawyer, making sure that laws are enforced (or
applied). When the United States needs to be represented in-person in court, the Attorney General is responsible for stating the government’s position. The
Attorney General is the only member of the U.S. Cabinet who does not have the title of “secretary.”


cabinet – a group of people who give advice, information, and ideas to the U.S. president on many important issues
* How many people are in the U.S. Cabinet?

title – the name of one's job; the way that a person is referred to
* Her title is "regional sales manager."

foreign affairs – things that happen between two or more countries
* Rita is studying foreign affairs because she likes to know about the agreements between countries.

to negotiate – to discuss something, trying to get the other person or organization to agree to what one wants
* Do you think those countries will ever be able to negotiate a peace agreement?

ambassador – an official representatives of a country in another country
* The United States has an ambassador in almost every country in the world.

monetary bill – a piece of paper money; money that is printed on paper
* Have you ever seen the United States' $2 monetary bill?

military – the people and organizations who fight for a country, usually to protect it
* The military spends a lot of money on technology and weapons.

to enforce (something) – to make people follow a law or rule; to make sure that a rule or law is applied
* The speed limit on this street in 15 miles per hour, but the police don't enforce it and many people drive 30 or 40 miles per hour here.