Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue as designated survivor for this year

The designated survivor for tonight’s State of the Union address is Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Perdue is this year’s “designated survivor,” the chosen official who skips the president’s speech to ensure the continuity of government in the case of a catastrophe that wipes out the president, the vice president and the rest of the nation’s leaders who will be in attendance.

The White House announced just before Tuesday’s speech that Perdue would skip the State of the Union address in the House chamber at the Capitol and instead spend the evening in a secure and undisclosed location.

According to the Senate Historical Office, the practice dates to at least the early 1960s “and perhaps much earlier.”

Background: The designated survivor is the member of the cabinet who will spend the speech at a secret location and be ready to assume the duties of president in case of attack on the speech site that incapacitates the president and other officials in the line of succession.

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