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Video:What Is the Presidential Cabinet?

with Megan Murphy

The presidential cabinet is a part of the execute branch of the government. The cabinet includes secretaries who advise the president regarding certain departments. Watch this About.com video to learn more about the presidential cabinet.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Is the Presidential Cabinet?

Hey I’m Megan Murphy with About.com and today we’ll explain the presidential cabinet, why we call it that and who sits on it.

Cabinet Origins

The word cabinet comes from “cabinetto” an Italian word meaning a “small, private room.”  So it’s essentially a place to discuss important business. George Washington had the first “cabinet” meeting all the way back in 1791.  The idea came from the English Parliament which had its own “cabinet council” that advised the king and oversaw certain government departments. The presidential cabinet is part of the executive branch of government.

Executive Departments

The cabinet is made up of the secretaries of all 15 departments. In order of presidential succession the top three cabinet-level departments are:

1. The Department of State

2. The Department of Defense

3. The Department of the Treasury

Cabinet Composition

The president appoints the secretaries, but they must first be approved by the senate. A department secretary cannot be a member of congress or hold any other office. Secretaries will serve as long as the president who appointed them remains in office - and the annual salary for secretaries is right around $200,000.  

When Washington created the first cabinet his philosophy was to appoint whoever is most qualified based on merit. Today that has changed a bit, as many argue- typically a president appoints his cabinet more for political reasons than what's in the best interest of the American people.

Generally the cabinet meets at least once a week, but there is no set time to meet. Often times other high ranking officials will attend cabinet meetings.

Thanks for watching our Profile of the Presidential Cabinet, for more information check out About.com

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