WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is Tuesday night’s designated survivor, an administration official confirms to CNN, staying away from the Capitol as President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address.
Every year the administration appoints one member of the Cabinet to remain outside the House chamber during the State of the Union in case disaster strikes.
It was business as usual for Perdue on Tuesday, who spent most of his day at the Department of Agriculture, where he was in good spirits as usual.
He attended an event on food safety at the White House, held a meeting with staff about upcoming business, and met in his office with US Forest Service firefighter David Dalhberg, a guest of the first lady’s at Tuesday’s address.
Aides — who were unaware of the plans — were planning for Perdue to attend the State of the Union address and make media appearances touting the President’s message. But throughout the day as media inquiries came in, chatter that he would be the designated survivor began swirling in his office.
Perdue was scheduled to leave his office at 5:30 p.m. to attend a reception with the first lady and her State of the Union guests in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. He will spend the speech in a designated secure area away from the Capitol.
Perdue is scheduled to travel to Atlanta tomorrow, where he will deliver remarks to the International Production and Processing Expo at 11 a.m.
The Georgia native was confirmed to the post of Agriculture Secretary in April 2017. He is a former farmer, agri-businessman, veterinarian, state legislator and governor of Georgia, per his official biography.
Perdue, who was raised on a rural dairy farm, has traveled to 32 states during his tenure in the Trump administration and has been working closely with Congress on the forthcoming Farm Bill. He is also deeply involved in NAFTA negotiations.