One key member of the Biden administration will not be present during this evening’s State of the Union address — Marty Walsh. After being selected as the designated survivor, the U.S. Labor Secretary will watch tonight’s events from a secure location.
The role of the designated survivor was created during the 20th century. In the event of a catastrophic incident, one public official in the line of presidential succession is selected and asked to watch the address from an undisclosed, secure location. If a catastrophic incident were to take place in Washington, D.C., the designated survivor would take over as President until further notice.
As the U.S. Labor Secretary, Walsh is 11th in the line of succession to the Oval Office. During his first few years in office, he has played a key role in preventing a strike of railroad operators that would have damaged the U.S. supply chain. Moving forward, he is expected to walk away from his position as Labor Secretary and become the executive director of the NHL Players’ Association. Neither the White House nor the NHLPA has confirmed Walsh’s decision. In Walsh’s potential absence, Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su is expected to take his place.
Walsh is the latest official to leave the Biden administration. One month ago, Ron Klain stepped away from his position as the White House chief of staff. In his absence, Jeff Zients, who led the Biden administration’s Covid-19 response, has taken on the position.