[US Institution] Cabinet

Following on the US institution, we are now looking at the federal cabinet

What is it ?

The US cabinet is composed from the highest officer in the executive branch of the US federal government. The members, called Secretaries are acting as ministers.

The cabinet is almost not present in the US Constitution and Federal Law ; those texts formerly recognize the possibility for the President to appoints such officers and put them in charge of an executive department, but don’t go much further.

The Departments

The departments are not defined in the Constitution or law and mostly follow tradition, though their number did grow over the years: the first cabinet (for President G. Washington) had only 4 departments. There are currently 15 departments, the Department of Homeland Security being the youngest, created in 2002.

Some of the departments are :

    • Department of States
    • of Justice
    • of Treasury
    • of Energy (incidentally my boss at the moment)
    • of Education
    • of Homeland Security

The Members.

Secretaries, are they are called – except for the Justice department where the office is named “Attorney General” – are appointed by the President and confirmed by a vote in the Senate (which follows congressional hearings of the nominee). The president can discharge them at will.

Anything like that in the European Union ?

The European Commission is somewhat similar to the US cabinet: indeed, members are in charge of one particular domain, and are (since the new commission) confirmed – though in group and not one by one – by the European Parliament.

A major difference is that there is no requirement in the US that each of the 50 state gets its own cabinet, while in Europe, member states are trying to get the best position for their commissioner.

Further more, a commissioner as less influence in Europe than a Secretary in the US, but this is just a consequence of the lesser competence of the EU over the union compare to the Federal government competences in the US.


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