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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.
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Feb 5, 2019

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry


Jan 30, 2018

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue


Feb 28, 2017**

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin


Jan 12, 2016

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson


Jan 20, 2015

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx


Jan 28, 2014

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz


Feb 12, 2013

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu


Jan 24, 2012

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack


Jan 25, 2011

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar


Jan 28, 2010

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan


Feb 24, 2009**

Attorney General Eric Holder


Jan 28, 2008

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne


Jan 23, 2007

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales


Jan 31, 2006

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson


Feb 2, 2005

Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans


Jan 20, 2004

Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans


Jan 28, 2003

Attorney General John Ashcroft


Jan 29, 2002

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton


Feb 27, 2001**

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi


Jan 27, 2000

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson


Jan 19, 1999

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew M. Cuomo


Jan 27, 1998

Secretary of Commerce Bill Daley


Feb 4, 1997

Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman


Jan 30, 1996

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala


Jan 24, 1995

Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña


Jan 25, 1994

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy


Feb 17, 1993**

Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt


Jan 28, 1992

Secretary of Agriculture Ed Madigan


Jan 29, 1991

Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan Jr.


Jan 31, 1990

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Edward J. Derwinski


Feb 9, 1989*

Unknown


Jan 25, 1988

Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel


Jan 27, 1987

Secretary of Agriculture Richard Lyng


Feb 4, 1986

Secretary of Agriculture John Block


Feb 6, 1985

Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige Jr.


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 address before a joint session of Congress is not considered an official "State of the Union" message, although the president followed the State of the Union tradition of having a cabinet member stay home.

Senate Historical Office

January 2018