Ridge moves up the presidential succession ladder

| 7/18/2003

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge could be 8th in line to succeed the president if bills now before Congress become law, according to media reports.

Under the Presidential Succession Act, signed in 1947 by then-President Harry Truman, if the president either dies or is unable to fill out his term, the vice president would become president. Next in line is the speaker of the House, then the president pro tempore of the Senate and then the secretary of state.

Ridge, as the newest Cabinet-level secretary, was No. 18 on the list, according to media outlets. The bills, one of which was approved by the Senate in late June, would move him up to No. 8.

While the bill has met little resistance in Congress, it has spurred some jabs from comedians. John Stewart of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” pointed out that the bill would mean that if a terrorist attack were to wipe out the first seven, ironically, the man in charge of the failed security that led to their deaths would take over.

According to The Associated Press, the current line of succession is: Vice President Dick Cheney, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Senate President Pro Tempore Ted Stevens, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of the Treasury John Snow, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Interior Secretary Gale Norton. The bills would place Ridge behind Ashcroft and ahead of Norton.