Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin was chosen to be the designated survivor during President Donald Trump’s first major speech to Congress.
The designated survivor will be kept in a secret, protected location as lawmakers and their guests gather on Capitol Hill to hear Trump speak Tuesday. This person will be ready to take on the task of leading the free world should a catastrophic event kill everyone before them in the presidential line of succession.
A designated survivor is typically chosen for political events attended by those in power in the federal government, like inaugurations or State of the Union addresses. The tradition dates back to the Cold War era.
An ABC show starring Kiefer Sutherland has brought more attention to the role of designated survivor. Sutherland plays a fictional secretary of Housing and Urban Development named Tom Kirkman, who becomes president after an explosion kills everyone attending a State of the Union address.
Read more updates on Trump’s speech here.