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Pelosi is third in line for President … who’s fourth?

January 5, 2007

Well, the new Congress is in place. And everyone is gaga over the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (except for Wonkette…hilarious pic and caption here).

Pelosi’s third in line for the Presidency, if God forbid, anything happens to both President George W. Bush and VP Dick Cheney in the same time span. The way the world is going, it’s not out of the question that a severe terrorist attack could obliterate both the White House and the “undisclosed location” where Cheney is kept.

But, who is fourth in line to be President?

I was listening to Glenn Beck this morning, and when he asked that question, my mind went “CLUNK!”

Why can’t I remember my civics lessons from grade school as well as I can remember Super Bowl stats?

(The answer after the jump! … and not to why I remember Super Bowl stats better….)

I’d guess it’s a high-ranking cabinet member or the Senate minority leader, Sen. Harry Reid. Nope, Reid’s not even on the list!

Sen. Robert Byrd (from his site)It’s Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia (pictured at right).

Yes, the oldest member of the new Democrat Senate majority (89 years old, in his ninth term since 1958) is the President Pro Tempore of the chamber. He’s cast over 17,500 votes in the Senate. And he’s the man who has sent more federal “pork” project dollars to his district in West Virginia and moved more federal agencies to his home region than any other politician.

The man has a thirst for Red Bull energy drinks. Oh, and did I mention he’s a former Klu Klux Klan member?

Byrd got mentioned in an AP story yesterday about the swearing-in ceremony — for almost passing out in front of the celebrity-laden crowd:

Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia was sworn in for the ninth time Thursday, and he did it in signature style.

The West Virginia Democrat, who turns 90 this year and is the longest-serving member of the current Senate, is known for his long speeches, his knowledge of Senate rules and his flamboyant personality.

He first spoke through the opening prayer, calling “Praise Jesus,” and “yeah!”

After he was sworn in by Vice President Cheney, he pumped his fist and yelled, “So help me God!”

Just after that, Byrd appeared weak and started to collapse. He was caught by his West Virginia colleague, Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, and other senators standing nearby.

Byrd didn’t miss a step as he then walked back to his desk, giving a loud “Hallelujah!” to the crowd.

If you’re playing at home, in case Byrd passes out permanently, here’s the official order for succession:

The original Constitution provides that if neither the President nor Vice President can serve, the Congress shall provide law stating who is next in line. Currently that law exists as 3 USC 19, a section of the U.S. Code. This law was established as part of the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. There, the following line of succession is provided:

  • Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • President Pro Tempore of the Senate
  • Secretary of State
  • Secretary of the Treasury
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of the Interior
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Secretary of Commerce
  • Secretary of Labor
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Secretary of Transportation
  • Secretary of Energy
  • Secretary of Education
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  • Secretary of Homeland Security (not yet set by law)

The only exception to the line provided in the law states that to ascend to the Presidency, the next person in line must be constitutionally eligible. Any person holding an office in the line of succession who, for example, is not a naturally-born citizen cannot become President. In this case, that person would be skipped and the next eligible person in the line would become President.

And since you can’t tell the players without a program….here’s a list of the Bush cabinet members as of Dec. 19:

  • Secretary of Agriculture (Mike Johanns)
  • Secretary of Commerce (Carlos Gutierrez)
  • Secretary of Defense (Robert Gates)
  • Secretary of Education (Margaret Spellings)
  • Secretary of Energy (Samuel Bodman)
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services (Michael Leavitt)
  • Secretary of Homeland Security (Michael Chertoff)
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Alphonso Jackson)
  • Secretary of Interior (Dirk Kempthorne)
  • Attorney General (Alberto Gonzales)
  • Secretary of Labor (Elaine Chao)
  • Secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice)
  • Secretary of Transportation (Mary Peters)
  • Secretary of Treasury (Henry Paulson)
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Jim Nicholson)
  • Chief of Staff (Joshua Bolten)
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (Stephen Johnson)
  • Office of Management and Budget Director (Rob Portman)
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy Director (John Walters)
  • United States Trade Representative (Susan Schwab)

You gotta wonder if Secretary of Veterans Affairs ever looks up that list and dreams of what could be?

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