Per tradition, presidential administrations have chosen one member of the Cabinet to remain under Secret Service protection for the duration of the State of the Union address in the event that a disaster should decimate the line of succession.
This year, the designated survivor is Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Rather than attend tonight’s remarks, the Secretary will be taken to an undisclosed location and remain under Secret Service protection.
WH says @SecretarySonny is tonight's "designated survivor." As Ag Secretary, he is 9th in the presidential line of succession. He will spend the evening at an undisclosed location under @SecretService protection in case of a catastrophe at the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/rH4KqLnRxn
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) January 30, 2018
When Trump addressed a joint session of Congress in the beginning of 2017, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was chosen as the designated survivor.
The designation has been made popular by the ABC series, Designated Survivor, in which the fictional Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, “Thomas Kirkman,” played by Kiefer Sutherland, ascended to the presidency after an explosion during the State of the Union speech claimed the lives of the President and everyone else in the line of succession.
Secretary Perdue is 9th in the presidential line of succession.