Secretary Of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was named as the Designated Survivor, meaning he is skipping the State of the Union address and will be secure at an undisclosed location. Perdue is the former governor of Georgia.

According to ABC News, standard protocol has ruled that one Cabinet member must skip high-profile events such as the State of the Union address, which is attended by the entire presidential administration, Congress and the Supreme Court, in case some major disaster hits and wipes out the entire presidential line of succession.

The designated survivor is whisked away to an undisclosed location along with a military aide carrying the "football," which is the briefcase that holds the nuclear launch codes.

The last designated survivor before Perdue was President Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

Fox News reports that the "designated survivor" tradition can be traced to the Cold War, when fears of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union were growing intense. It's also a part of the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, which details who would assume the presidency in the event of a catastrophic attack like a nuclear attack.

Following the Vice President, the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore, succession then goes to cabinet secretaries based on when the departments were created, beginning with the Secretary of State and ending with Homeland Security.

As a designated survivor, they also must meet the constitutional requirements to be president.

President Trump's Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao can actually not serve as a designated survivor because she was born in Taiwan. There are several different "designated survivors" who did not attend the State of the Union address over the last 10 years, including:

  • 2007 - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
  • 2008 - Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
  • 2010 - Secretary of Hillary Clinton and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan
  • 2011 - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
  • 2012 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
  • 2013 - Energy Secretary Steven Chu
  • 2014 - Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
  • 2015 - Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
  • 2016 - Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
  • 2018 - Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue

Perdue is ninth in the line of succession for the presidency. The designated survivor is briefed by security and advisers on what would happen if a major disaster struck during the State of the Union, thus making him the acting commander-in-chief.