Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is the designated survivor for this year's State of the Union address

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump (L) embraces Energy Secretary Rick Perry

Rick Perry, the Trump administration’s energy secretary, is the designated survivor on Tuesday during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

On the evening of every State of the Union address since the 1960s, one cabinet-level White House official has been selected as a the “designated survivor” to spend the evening in a secure location with a security detail and the nuclear codes.

The State of the Union is typically attended by the President, Vice President, members from both chambers of Congress, several or all nine Supreme Court Justices, and the Cabinet.

In the event of a disaster event, an official confirmed by the US Senate would be in a secure locale and ready to take over the reins of government.


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Previous designated survivors for the State of the Union have watched the speech from locations as far-flung as Jamaica to the Maryland seashore and New York City.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, however, the Secret Service greatly increased the secrecy and security around the designated survivor experience.

Cabinet members chosen for the position are not allowed to disclose their location during the speech or extensively discuss how they spent the evening.

Last year, agriculture secretary Sonny Purdue was chosen as designated survivor.

The selection for the 2019 designated survivor was also difficult given that the person chosen must have been confirmed by the Senate for their position. That means the many “acting” secretaries at Defence, Justice, and Interior were not eligible for selection.

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