President Biden set to deliver State of the Union speech tonight
President Biden delivered the State of the Union on Tuesday night live from the Capitol building in Washington D.C. - and every member of Congress, the Supreme Court, and executive branch was invited - except for one.
This year, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo was absent from tonight's speech - as she was declared the 'designated survivor'.
That's right, designated survivor is not just a TV show, it's a real policy carried out every year at the State of the Union address.
It is atypical for most members of the US government to be in one location at the same time due to security reasons. But the annual speech is one of the event exceptions which means one member of the President's Cabinet must stay home.
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The policy started in the 1950s during the Cold War when a nuclear attack felt impending. In the event of a mass casualty at the President's inauguration or State of the Union speech there had to be one person eligible to take over.
According to the policy, the president chooses one person (typically at random) within the line of succession to serve as a designated survivor whenever major government gatherings occur.
Gina Rainmondo, Secretary of Commerce, was selected as the designated survivor for tonight's State of the Union
This year Secretary Raimondo took one for the team.
The likelihood of an event that wipes out the entire cabinet is always very, very, very low.
Had it happened, however, Secretary Rainmondo would have been well-prepared. Not only is she a Harvard Graduate, but she also has a law degree, served as general treasurer of Rhode Island, and served as the first female governor of Rhode Island up until her Cabinet nomination.