Presidential Succession Act of 1947 Set Line of Succession for US President

The presidential succession act - Joe Biden illustration.When Joe Biden won the 2020 US Presidential election, many people wondered what would happen if he passed away while in office.

After all, President Biden would be 78 years of age when he stepped into the White House in 2021, which would make him the oldest US President in history.

Who would take over the role of President if Biden passed away? How long of a line of succession is there in the United States?

It's not as simple as Kamala Harris taking over if Biden were to pass away.

The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (and its amendments) establishes a long line of succession. This long line of succession deals with the possibility that multiple people in the line of succession might be killed or pass away at the same time.


To start, in order to be eligible to serve as President, you must:

1) Be a natural-born citizen of the United States
2) Be at least 35 years of age
3) Have been a resident of the United States for at least 14 years


Now, here is the current order of succession in the United States (an amendment added the Secretary of Homeland Security to the list a few years ago):

1. Vice President
2. Speaker of the House of Representatives
3. President pro tempore of the Senate
4. Secretary of State
5. Secretary of the Treasury
6. Secretary of Defense
7. Attorney General
8. Secretary of the Interior
9. Secretary of Agriculture
10. Secretary of Commerce
11. Secretary of Labor
12. Secretary of Health and Human Services
13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
14. Secretary of Transporation
15. Secretary of Energy
16. Secretary of Education
17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
18. Secretary of Homeland Security

If a person is ineligible to serve as President, the next person on the list is chosen.


This succession list obviously creates the possibility of a situation where a member of the opposing party might only be two steps away from being named President.

Filed under: General Knowledge

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