Holder Staying Away From Obama's Speech
Attorney General Eric Holder will not attend President Obama's speech to Congress tonight, according to an administration official, and will instead serve as the "designated survivor," or cabinet secretary kept at an undisclosed location to ensure continuity of government in case of a catastrophic event.
Holder is the third attorney general in recent history to stay away from the big event: Alberto Gonzales did not attend the 2007 State of the Union, while John Ashcroft stayed away in 2003.
Since 1984, the interior secretary has skipped the big speech most frequently, according to the Senate Historical Office. Last year Dirk Kempthorne did not attend President Bush's final State of the Union, Gale Norton stayed away in 2002, Bruce Babbitt did so in 1993, Manuel Lujan was absent in 1991 while Donald P. Hodel served as the appointed no-show in 1988.
Donald Evans, who served as commerce secretary from 2001 to 2005, is the only cabinet secretary to serve as designated survivor twice, in 2004 and 2005. Nobody missed President Bush's first address to Congress in 1989.
Here's the full list of absent cabinet secretaries since 1984:
January 28, 2008: Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
January 23, 2007: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
January 31, 2006: Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson
February 2, 2005: Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans
January 20, 2004: Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans
January 28, 2003: Attorney General John Ashcroft
January 29, 2002: Interior Secretary Gale Norton
February 27, 2001: Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi
January 27, 2000: Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson
January 19, 1999: Secretary of HUD Andrew W. Cuomo
January 27, 1998: Commerce Secretary Bill Daley
February 4, 1997: Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman
January 30, 1996: HHS Secretary Donna Shalala
January 24, 1995: Transportation Secretary Federico Pena
January 25, 1994: Agriculture Secretary Mike Epsy
February 17, 1993: Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt
January 28, 1992: Secretary of Agriculture Ed Madigan
January 29, 1991: Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan
January 31, 1990: Veterans Affairs Secretary Edward J. Derwinski
February 9, 1989: No absent cabinet member
January 25, 1988: Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel
January 27, 1987: Agriculture Secretary Richard Lyng
February 4, 1986: Secretary of Agriculture John Block
February 6, 1985: Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige
January 25, 1984: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel R. Pierce Jr.
Source: Senate Historical Office
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