WASHINGTON (NBC News) — Thanks to a TV show of the same name, the process of selecting a designated survivor has found new popularity.
Last year when President Trump addressed his first joint session of Congress, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was chosen as a designated survivor and sent to a secure, undisclosed location.
The year’s chosen one isn’t expected to be tapped until just before the events on Capitol Hill begin.
Historians say records of designated survivors go back to at least the 1980s.
To be selected, the individual must be in the president’s cabinet, must be in a position part of the line of succession and must fall under the criteria to run for office (including being a natural born US citizen who is at least 35 years old).
Historically the appointed person comes from newer departments like veterans affairs, homeland security or energy.
According to Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, whittling down the list takes time.
It all depends on who in the cabinet needs to be at the particular event.
For example, Perry says that if a president is set to speak about a department in his speech, a cabinet secretary may need to be in the audience so cameras can pan to the individual.
Since 9/11, the Senate has also named its own designated survivor to keep that branch of the government operating should a doomsday scenario occur.