Who’s Who? The Scoop On Trump’s Cabinet

The media does a pretty good job of keeping Americans informed about who’s who and what’s happening in D.C. But with so many names and positions and congressional this-and-that, things can get confusing. Like, who is Jeff Sessions and what exactly made Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of him on SNL so dang funny? Why has there been so much press on Betsy DeVos? Wasn’t Rick Perry a contestant on Dancing with the Stars??? The Lala is here to answer your questions with a helpful guide to President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

First of all, what’s a Cabinet?

It’s a group of the president’s most important right-hand men and women. The President’s Cabinet includes the Vice President and 15 other officers of executive departments of the federal government that acts as advisers to the President. Officers are appointed by the President and approved by a majority Senate vote.

So, who’s in the Cabinet?

Let’s go in order of the presidential line of succession (meaning if Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch all suddenly cannot serve as president, these are the people we will turn to).

Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State

Fast facts:

  • Former CEO of ExxonMobil
  • Supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which former President Obama liked but Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton do not like
  • Awarded a Russian Order of Friendship in 2013 after forming a partnership with Igor Sechin (chief of the Russian oil company Rosneft and Vladimir Putin’s lieutenant) for a new drilling enterprise in the Kara Sea
  • Doesn’t support a “blanket” ban on all Muslims, but maybe a ban on immigrants from Muslim nations

Responsible for: Foreign affairs

Steven Mnuchin

Secretary of the Treasury

Fast facts:

  • Has an IMDb profile because he produced (i.e., financed) a lot of big movies
  • Former banker at Goldman Sachs
  • A big guy on Wall Street (think: hedge funds, buying banks, foreclosures, lawsuits, oh my!)
  • Appointed regardless of Trump’s past criticisms of the financial industry
  • Currently working on the Trump administration’s tax plan

Responsible for:  Financial affairs of the nation at large

James Mattis

Secretary of Defense

Fast facts:

  • A decorated former Marine Corps general
  • Used to have the nickname “Mad Dog Mattis”… but not anymore?
  • Needed a congressional waiver to become Secretary of Defense—the law states that retired military personnel can serve as Defense Secretary only if they’ve been retired from the military for seven years, and Mattis has been retired for three
  • Was fired by Obama
  • He’s a lifelong bachelor, ladies!

Responsible for: The U.S. military (policies, plans, resources, etc.)

Jeff Sessions

Attorney General

Fast facts:

Responsible for: Executive law enforcement, being the “chief lawyer”

Ryan Zinke

Secretary of the Interior

Fast facts:

  • Former Navy SEAL
  • Former U.S. Representative for Montana
  • Republicans want him to dismantle the government’s restrictions on public land usage
  • Loves former President Theodore Roosevelt
  • Believes that climate change is really happening, really fast

Responsible for:  Land conservation and mining for resources in the U.S.

Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Agriculture

Fast facts:

  • Nominated Secretary of Agriculture at time of writing (confirmation hearing on March 23, 2017)
  • Former Governor of Georgia
  • Loves farming—in fact, his experience with farming is in large part why Trump picked him
  • Created a maybe-unconstitutional law in Georgia, requiring voters to show photo identification, in the name of fighting “voter fraud”
  • Unclear whether or not he supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is popular in the agricultural industries

Responsible for: The USDA, supporting farmers and others to provide safe food for Americans

Wilbur Ross

Secretary of Commerce

Fast facts:

  • An investor known for buying out and rebuilding failing companies
  • His businesses have economic ties with China
  • Positively views trade
  • Likes that Trump is a bit of a wild card
  • Believed that Hillary Clinton would send the U.S. into a recession had she been elected
  • Definitely a billionaire

Responsible for: Developing domestic and foreign commerce

Alexander Acosta

Secretary of Labor

Fast facts:

  • He’s been in government for a while—former U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida under both Obama and former President George W. Bush; former member of the National Labor Relations Board and former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Bush
  • Former Dean of the Florida International University College of Law before becoming Labor Secretary
  • Testified before the Senate on civil rights protections for American Muslims in 2011

Responsible for: All matters concerning working individuals

Tom Price

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Fast facts:

  • Former U.S. Representative for Georgia
  • Former orthopedic surgeon
  • Strongly against a lot of things involving health care: Obamacare, a woman’s right to abortion, universal health care, Medicare and Medicaid, government involvement in health care
  • Also against same-sex marriage
  • Wants to defund Planned Parenthood

Responsible for: Protecting the well-being of citizens through health, welfare, and income security services

Ben Carson

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Fast facts:

  • Former Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, incredibly successful neurosurgeon
  • Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bush
  • Portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the TV movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
  • Ran for the Republican presidential candidacy in 2016
  • A key player in The Great GOP Debate Entrance Fail

Responsible for: Leading the Department of Housing and Urban Development in establishing affordable housing for Americans

Elain Chao

Secretary of Transportation

Fast facts:

  • Plenty of relevant government experience: former Secretary of Labor under Bush; former Director of the Peace Corps and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation under former President George H. W. Bush
  • Forms a total power couple with husband Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senator (Republican, Kentucky)
  • Emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan at age eight

Responsible for: Oversees all national transportation affairs

Rick Perry

Secretary of Energy

Fast facts:

  • Former Governor of Texas
  • Ran for the Republican presidential candidacy in 2012 and 2016
  • Wanted to dismantle the U.S. Department of Energy in 2011…but forgot that he wanted to during an infamous portion of a 2011 GOP debate
  • Yes, he was on Dancing with the Stars in 2016—no, he did not win

Responsible for: Nuclear security, energy conservation, production, and research

Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education

Fast facts:

Responsible for: Federal oversight of education policies

David Shulkin

Secretary of Veteran Affairs

Fast facts:

  • Former Under Secretary of Health for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under Obama
  • Has plenty of medical experience, especially in the private sector
  • Supports Veterans Choice, allowing veterans to receive private care
  • Advocate for veteran suicide prevention
  • Not a veteran himself, but family members have served in the military

Responsible for: Leading the Department of Veterans Affairs in initiatives concerning veterans’ benefits, health care, and memorials

John F. Kelly

Secretary of Homeland Security

Fast facts:

  • Former Marine Corps general, former commander of United States Southern Command
  • Lost his son, Lieutenant Robert Michael Kelly, in Afghanistan
  • Drew criticism for insinuating that women aren’t physically strong enough to be in combat
  • Oversaw the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, which has drawn criticism for reported human rights abuses
  • Will he build The Wall?

Responsible for: Protecting Americans from domestic and international terrorism and other (think: natural) disasters

Olivia Arredondo

Editorial Contributor, The University of Texas at Austin Major: English/Communications Her heart belongs to: mocha lattes, 80s pop music, and live-tweeting The Bachelor Take her away to: the mountains or the beach

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