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Cabinet Members Who Did Not Attend the State of the Union Address



Article II, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires the president to "give to Congress Information on the State of the Union." Each year, one member of the president's cabinet is absent from the address, to maintain the line of succession in case of an emergency.

DateAbsent Cabinet Member
2020_0204 Feb 4, 2020 Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt
2019_0205 Feb 5, 2019 Secretary of Energy Rick Perry
2018_0130 Jan 30, 2018 Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue
2017_0228 Feb 28, 2017** Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin
2016_0112 Jan 12, 2016 Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
2015_0120 Jan 20, 2015 Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx
2014_0128 Jan 28, 2014 Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz
2013_0212 Feb 12, 2013 Secretary of Energy Steven Chu
2012_0124 Jan 24, 2012 Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
2011_0125 Jan 25, 2011 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
2010_0128 Jan 28, 2010 Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan
2009_0224 Feb 24, 2009** Attorney General Eric Holder
2008_0128 Jan 28, 2008 Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
2007_0123 Jan 23, 2007 Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
2006_0131 Jan 31, 2006 Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson
2005_0202 Feb 2, 2005 Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans
2004_0120 Jan 20, 2004 Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans
2003_0128 Jan 28, 2003 Attorney General John Ashcroft
2002_0129 Jan 29, 2002 Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton
2001_0227 Feb 27, 2001** Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi
2000_0127 Jan 27, 2000 Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson
1999_0119 Jan 19, 1999 Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew M. Cuomo
1998_0127 Jan 27, 1998 Secretary of Commerce Bill Daley
1997_0204 Feb 4, 1997 Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman
1996_0130 Jan 30, 1996 Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala
1995_0124 Jan 24, 1995 Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña
1994_0125 Jan 25, 1994 Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy
1993_0217 Feb 17, 1993** Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt
1992_0128 Jan 28, 1992 Secretary of Agriculture Ed Madigan
1991_0129 Jan 29, 1991 Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan Jr.
1990_0131 Jan 31, 1990 Secretary of Veterans Affairs Edward J. Derwinski
1989_0209 Feb 9, 1989* Unknown
1988_0125 Jan 25, 1988 Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel
1987_0127 Jan 27, 1987 Secretary of Agriculture Richard Lyng
1986_0204 Feb 4, 1986 Secretary of Agriculture John Block
1985_0206 Feb 6, 1985 Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige Jr.
1984_0125 Jan 25, 1984 Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel R. Pierce Jr.

* The practice of one cabinet official remaining absent from the event dates at least to the early 1960s and perhaps much earlier. Prior to the 1980s, however, the selection of the official was often not made public.

**This speech delivered before a joint session of Congress shortly after the president's inauguration is not considered an official "State of the Union" address.

Senate Historical Office

February 2020