Origins of the Presidency and Official Duties


Who would succeed to the presidency if the office becomes vacant and there is no vice president?

According to Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution, Congress fixes the order of succession following the vice president. According to the effective law on succession, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, should both the president and vice president vacate their offices, the Speaker of the House of Representatives would assume the presidency. Next in line is the president pro tempore of the Senate (a senator elected by that body to preside in the absence of the vice president), and then cabinet officers in designated order: secretary of state, secretary of the treasury, secretary of defense, attorney general, secretary of the interior, secretary of agriculture, secretary of commerce, secretary of labor, secretary of health and human services, secretary of housing and urban development, secretary of transportation, secretary of energy, secretary of education, and secretary of veterans affairs.


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