WASHINGTON – The Senate (search) approved a bill Tuesday to raise the homeland security secretary (search) from last to eighth place in the presidential line of succession, just after the attorney general.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike DeWine (search), R-Ohio, passed without objection just before the chamber adjourned. The companion House bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., is pending before the Judiciary and Government Reform committees.
If the bill also passes the House, the order of those in line to assume the presidency if President Bush is unable to serve would be:
—Vice President Dick Cheney
—House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
—Senate President Pro Tem Ted Stevens, R-Alaska
—Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
—Treasury Secretary John Snow
—Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
—Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
—Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
—Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton
—Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns
—Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez
—Labor Secretary Elaine Chao
—Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt
—Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson
—Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta
—Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman
—Education Secretary Margaret Spellings
—Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson
The Constitution, however, requires that the president be a natural-born citizen, so Gutierrez, born in Cuba, and Chao, born in Taiwan, would be ineligible.
The bills are S. 442 and H.R. 1455.