Nobody is threatening a coup, but there could be a brief period Tuesday night when both President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden are out of the county at the same time.
Mr. Obama is scheduled to depart Washington for Israel at 8 p.m. Mr. Biden, in Rome for the installation of Pope Francis, is not due to return to Washington until 9:20 p.m.
While Mr. Obama remains commander-in-chief no matter where he travels, administrations try to avoid situations where the nation’s top two officials are beyond U.S. shores simultaneously. Then-Vice President Dick Cheney told an interviewer in 2002 that he and President George W. Bush “consciously avoid a situation in which we’re both gone from the country.” Former White House chief of staff John Podesta said President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were once gone from the country at the same time for a very brief period.
If anything catastrophic happened to both the president and the vice president, Republican Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio would become president.
• Researcher John Sopko contributed to this report.