Senate of the United States
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The United States Senate is the
upper chamber An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tsebelis The house formally designated as the upper house is usually smalle ...
of the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, composed of a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, ...
, with the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
being the lower chamber. Together they compose the national
bicameral legislature Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative assembly, assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and ...
of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
. The composition and powers of the Senate are established by
Article One of the United States Constitution Article One of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the federal government, the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It i ...
. The Senate is composed of senators, each of whom represents a single
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
in its entirety. Each of the 50 states is equally represented by two senators who serve staggered terms of six years, for a total of 100 senators. The
vice president of the United States The vice president of the United States (VPOTUS) is the second-highest officer in the Executive branch of the United States government, executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in ...
serves as presiding officer and president of the Senate by virtue of that office, despite not being a senator, and has a vote only if the Senate is equally divided. In the vice president's absence, the
president pro tempore A president pro tempore or speaker pro tempore is a Constitution, constitutionally recognized officer of a Legislature, legislative body who presides over the chamber in the absence of the normal presiding officer. The phrase ''pro tempore'' is L ...
, who is traditionally the senior member of the party holding a majority of seats, presides over the Senate. As the upper chamber of Congress, the Senate has several powers of
advice and consent Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bills and in other legal or constitutional contexts. It describes either of two situations: where a weak executive branch The Executive, also referred as the ...
which are unique to it. These include the approval of
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, and the confirmation of Cabinet secretaries, federal judges (including Federal Supreme Court justices),
flag officers A flag officer is a commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an Military, armed force or Uniformed services, uniformed service. Broadly speaking, "officer" means a commissioned officer, a ...
, regulatory officials,
ambassadors An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sov ...
, other federal executive officials and federal uniformed officers. If no candidate receives a majority of electors for
vice president A vice president, also director in British English, is an Corporate officer, officer in government or business who is below the President (corporate title), president (chief executive officer) in rank. It can also refer to executive vice presid ...
, the duty falls to the Senate to elect one of the top two recipients of electors for that office. The Senate conducts trials of those impeached by the House. The Senate is widely considered both a more deliberative and more prestigious body than the House of Representatives due to its longer terms, smaller size, and statewide constituencies, which historically led to a more collegial and less partisan atmosphere. From 1789 to 1913, senators were appointed by legislatures of the states they represented. They are now elected by popular vote following the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913. In the early 1920s, the practice of majority and minority parties electing their floor leaders began. The Senate's legislative and executive business is managed and scheduled by the Senate majority leader. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.


History

The drafters of the
Constitution A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who ...
created a bicameral Congress primarily as a compromise between those who felt that each state, since it was sovereign, should be equally represented, and those who felt the legislature must directly represent the people, as the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
did in
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. This idea of having one chamber represent people equally, while the other gives equal representation to states regardless of population, was known as the
Connecticut Compromise The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman Compromise) was an agreement reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation each state woul ...
. There was also a desire to have two Houses that could act as an internal check on each other. One was intended to be a "People's House" directly elected by the people, and with short terms obliging the representatives to remain close to their constituents. The other was intended to represent the states to such extent as they retained their sovereignty except for the powers expressly delegated to the national government. The Constitution provides that the approval of both chambers is necessary for the passage of legislation. First convened in 1789, the Senate of the United States was formed on the example of the ancient
Roman Senate The Roman Senate ( la, Senātus Rōmānus) was a governing and advisory assembly in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the Rome, city of Rome (traditionally found ...
. The name is derived from the ',
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
for ''council of elders'' (from ' meaning ''old man'' in Latin).
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father. He served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Madison is hailed as ...
made the following comment about the Senate: Article Five of the Constitution stipulates that no constitutional amendment may be created to deprive a state of its equal suffrage in the Senate without that state's consent. The
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Logan Circle (Washington, D.C.), Logan Circle, Jefferson Memoria ...
and all other territories are not entitled to representation or allowed to vote in either house of Congress. They have official non-voting delegates in the House of Representatives, but none in the Senate. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico each additionally elect two " shadow senators", but they are officials of their respective local governments and not members of the U.S. Senate. The United States has had 50 states since 1959, thus the Senate has had 100 senators since 1959. The disparity between the most and least populous states has grown since the
Connecticut Compromise The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman Compromise) was an agreement reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation each state woul ...
, which granted each state two members of the Senate and at least one member of the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
, for a total minimum of three presidential electors, regardless of population. In 1787, Virginia had roughly ten times the population of Rhode Island, whereas today California has roughly 70 times the population of Wyoming, based on the
1790 Events January–March * January 8 – United States President George Washington gives the first State of the Union address, in New York City. * January 11 – The 11 minor states of the Austrian Netherlands, which took p ...
and 2020 censuses. Before the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, senators were elected by the individual state legislatures. Problems with repeated vacant seats due to the inability of a legislature to elect senators, intrastate political struggles, bribery and intimidation gradually led to a growing movement to amend the Constitution to allow for the direct election of senators.


Current composition and election results


Current party standings

The party composition of the Senate during the 117th Congress:


Membership


Qualifications

Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution, sets three qualifications for senators: (1) they must be at least 30 years old; (2) they must have been citizens of the United States for at least nine years; and (3) they must be inhabitants of the states they seek to represent at the time of their election. The age and citizenship qualifications for senators are more stringent than those for representatives. In Federalist No. 62,
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father. He served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Madison is hailed as ...
justified this arrangement by arguing that the "senatorial trust" called for a "greater extent of information and stability of character":
A senator must be thirty years of age at least; as a representative must be twenty-five. And the former must have been a citizen nine years; as seven years are required for the latter. The propriety of these distinctions is explained by the nature of the senatorial trust, which, requiring greater extent of information and stability of character, requires at the same time that the senator should have reached a period of life most likely to supply these advantages; and which, participating immediately in transactions with foreign nations, ought to be exercised by none who are not thoroughly weaned from the prepossessions and habits incident to foreign birth and education. The term of nine years appears to be a prudent mediocrity between a total exclusion of adopted citizens, whose merits and talents may claim a share in the public confidence, and an indiscriminate and hasty admission of them, which might create a channel for foreign influence on the national councils.Federalist Papers, No. 62
, Library of Congress.
The Senate (not the judiciary) is the sole judge of a senator's qualifications. During its early years, however, the Senate did not closely scrutinize the qualifications of its members. As a result, four senators who failed to meet the age requirement were nevertheless admitted to the Senate:
Henry Clay Henry Clay Sr. (April 12, 1777June 29, 1852) was an American attorney and statesman who represented Kentucky in both the United States Senate, U.S. Senate and United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives. He was the seven ...
(aged 29 in 1806),
John Jordan Crittenden John Jordan Crittenden (September 10, 1787 July 26, 1863) was an American statesman and politician from the U.S. state of Kentucky. He represented the state in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and twice served as United ...
(aged 29 in 1817), Armistead Thomson Mason (aged 28 in 1816), and John Eaton (aged 28 in 1818). Such an occurrence, however, has not been repeated since. In 1934, Rush D. Holt Sr. was elected to the Senate at the age of 29; he waited until he turned 30 (on the next June 19) to take the oath of office. In November 1972,
Joe Biden Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. ( ; born November 20, 1942) is an American politician who is the 46th and current president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, he previously served as the 47th ...
was elected to the Senate at the age of 29, but he reached his 30th birthday before the swearing-in ceremony for incoming senators in January 1973. The
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. Often considered as one of the most consequential amendments, it addresses citizenship rights and e ...
disqualifies as senators any federal or state officers who had taken the requisite oath to support the Constitution but who later engaged in rebellion or aided the enemies of the United States. This provision, which came into force soon after the end of the Civil War, was intended to prevent those who had sided with the Confederacy from serving. That Amendment, however, also provides a method to remove that disqualification: a two-thirds vote of both chambers of Congress.


Elections and term

Originally, senators were selected by the state legislatures, not by popular elections. By the early years of the 20th century, the legislatures of as many as 29 states had provided for popular election of senators by referendums. Popular election to the Senate was standardized nationally in 1913 by the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment.


Term

Senators serve terms of six years each; the terms are staggered so that approximately one-third of the seats are up for election every two years. This was achieved by dividing the senators of the 1st Congress into thirds (called classes), where the terms of one-third expired after two years, the terms of another third expired after four, and the terms of the last third expired after six years. This arrangement was also followed after the admission of new states into the union. The staggering of terms has been arranged such that both seats from a given state are not contested in the same general election, except when a vacancy is being filled. Current senators whose six-year terms are set to expire on January 3, 2023, belong to Class III. There is no constitutional limit to the number of terms a senator may serve. The Constitution set the date for Congress to convene — Article 1, Section 4, Clause 2, originally set that date for the third day of December. The Twentieth Amendment, however, changed the opening date for sessions to noon on the third day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day. The Twentieth Amendment also states that the Congress shall assemble at least once every year, and allows the Congress to determine its convening and adjournment dates and other dates and schedules as it desires. Article 1, Section 3, provides that the president has the power to convene Congress on extraordinary occasions at his discretion. A member who has been elected, but not yet seated, is called a ''senator-elect''; a member who has been appointed to a seat, but not yet seated, is called a ''senator-designate''.


Elections

Elections to the Senate are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years, Election Day, and coincide with elections for the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
. Senators are elected by their state as a whole. The Elections Clause of the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the nat ...
grants each state (and Congress, if it so desires to implement a uniform law) the power to legislate a method by which senators are elected. Ballot access rules for independent and minor party candidates also vary from state to state. In 45 states, a
primary election Primary elections, or direct primary are a voting process by which voters can indicate their preference for their party's candidate, or a candidate in general, in an upcoming general election A general election is a political voting electio ...
is held first for the Republican and Democratic parties (and a select few third parties, depending on the state) with the general election following a few months later. In most of these states, the nominee may receive only a plurality, while in some states, a runoff is required if no majority was achieved. In the general election, the winner is the candidate who receives a plurality of the popular vote. However, in five states, different methods are used. In Georgia, a runoff between the top two candidates occurs if the plurality winner in the general election does not also win a majority. In
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, located along the West Coast of the United States, Pacific Coast. With nearly 39.2million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territori ...
, Washington, and
Louisiana Louisiana , group=pronunciation (French: ''La Louisiane'') is a U.S. state, state in the Deep South and South Central United States, South Central regions of the United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 20th-smal ...
, a
nonpartisan blanket primary A nonpartisan blanket primary is a primary election in which all candidates for the same elected office run against each other at once, regardless of the political party. Partisan elections are, on the other hand, segregated by political party. ...
(also known as a "jungle primary" or "top-two primary") is held in which all candidates participate in a single primary regardless of party affiliation and the top two candidates in terms of votes received at the primary election advance to the general election, where the winner is the candidate with the greater number of votes. In Louisiana, the blanket primary is considered the general election and candidates receiving a majority of the votes is declared the winner, skipping a run-off. In
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It borders New Hampshire to the west, the Gulf of Maine to the southeast, and the Provinces and territories of Canad ...
and
Alaska Alaska ( ; russian: Аляска, Alyaska; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state, state located in the Western United States on the northwest extremity o ...
, ranked-choice voting is used to nominate and elect candidates for federal offices, including the Senate.


Vacancies

The Seventeenth Amendment requires that vacancies in the Senate be filled by special election. Whenever a senator must be appointed or elected, the secretary of the Senate mails one of three forms to the state's governor to inform them of the proper wording to certify the appointment of a new senator. If a special election for one seat happens to coincide with a general election for the state's other seat, each seat is contested separately. A senator elected in a special election takes office as soon as possible after the election and serves until the original six-year term expires (i.e. not for a full-term). The Seventeenth Amendment permits state legislatures to empower their governors to make temporary appointments until the required special election takes place. The manner by which the Seventeenth Amendment is enacted varies among the states. A 2018 report breaks this down into the following three broad categories (specific procedures vary among the states): NOTE: wherever present, references to page numbers in superscripts refer to the electronic (.pdf) pagination, not as found printed on the bottom margin of displayed pages. * Four states – North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin – do not empower their governors to make temporary appointments, relying exclusively on the required special election provision in the Seventeenth Amendment. * * Eight states – Alaska, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas, Vermont, and Washington – provide for gubernatorial appointments, but also require a special election on an accelerated schedule. * * The remaining thirty-eight states provide for gubernatorial appointments, "with the appointed senator serving the balance of the term or until the next statewide general election". In ten states within the final category above – Arizona, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming – the governor must appoint someone of the same political party as the previous incumbent. In September 2009,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (Massachusett language, Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut assachusett writing systems, məhswatʃəwiːsət'' English: , ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous U.S. state, state in the New England ...
changed its law to enable the governor to appoint a temporary replacement for the late senator Edward Kennedy until the special election in January 2010. In 2004,
Alaska Alaska ( ; russian: Аляска, Alyaska; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state, state located in the Western United States on the northwest extremity o ...
enacted legislation and a separate ballot referendum that took effect on the same day, but that conflicted with each other. The effect of the ballot-approved law is to withhold from the governor authority to appoint a senator. Because the 17th Amendment vests the power to grant that authority to the legislature – not the people or the state generally – it is unclear whether the ballot measure supplants the legislature's statute granting that authority. As a result, it is uncertain whether an Alaska governor may appoint an interim senator to serve until a special election is held to fill the vacancy. In May 2021, Oklahoma permitted its governor again to appoint a successor who is of the same party as the previous senator for at least the preceding five years when the vacancy arises in an even-numbered year, only after the appointee has taken an oath not to run in either a regular or special Senate election.


Oath

The Constitution requires that senators take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution. Congress has prescribed the following oath for all federal officials (except the President), including senators:


Salary and benefits

The annual
salary A salary is a form of periodic payment from an employer to an employee, which may be specified in an employment contract. It is contrasted with piece wages, where each job, hour or other unit is paid separately, rather than on a periodic basis. ...
of each senator, since 2009, is $174,000;Salaries.
United States Senate. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
the president pro tempore and party leaders receive $193,400. In June 2003, at least 40 senators were millionaires; in 2018, over 50 senators were millionaires. Along with earning salaries, senators receive retirement and health benefits that are identical to other federal employees, and are fully vested after five years of service. Senators are covered by the
Federal Employees Retirement System The Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) is the retirement system for employees within the United States civil service The United States federal civil service is the civilian workforce (i.e., non-elected and non-military public sector ...
(FERS) or
Civil Service Retirement System The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) is a public pension fund A pension fund, also known as a superannuation fund in some countries, is any plan, fund, or scheme which provides pension, retirement income. Pension funds typically have la ...
(CSRS). FERS has been the Senate's retirement system since January 1, 1987, while CSRS applies only for those senators who were in the Senate from December 31, 1986, and prior. As it is for federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants' contributions. Under FERS, senators contribute 1.3% of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2% of their salary in Social Security taxes. The amount of a senator's pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest three years of their salary. The starting amount of a senator's retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of their final salary. In 2006, the average annual pension for retired senators and representatives under CSRS was $60,972, while those who retired under FERS, or in combination with CSRS, was $35,952.


Seniority

By tradition, seniority is a factor in the selection of physical offices and in party caucuses' assignment of committees. When senators have been in office for the same length of time, a number of tiebreakers are used, including comparing their former government service and then their respective state population. The senator in each state with the longer time in office is known as the ''senior senator'', while the other is the ''junior senator''. For example, majority leader
Chuck Schumer Charles Ellis Schumer ( ; born November 23, 1950) is an American politician serving as Senate Majority Leader since January 20, 2021. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Schumer is in his fourth Senate term, hav ...
is the senior senator from New York, having served in the senate since 1999, while
Kirsten Gillibrand Kirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand (; ; born December 9, 1966) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the Seniority in the United States Senate, junior United States Senate, United States senator from New York (state), New York since 2009. ...
is New York's junior senator, having served since 2009.


Titles

Like members of the House of Representatives, Senators use the prefix "
The Honorable ''The Honourable'' (British English) or ''The Honorable'' (American English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling differences) (abbreviation: ''Hon.'', ''Hon'ble'', or variations) is an honorific Style (ma ...
" before their names. Senators are usually identified in the media and other sources by party and state; for example, Democratic majority leader
Chuck Schumer Charles Ellis Schumer ( ; born November 23, 1950) is an American politician serving as Senate Majority Leader since January 20, 2021. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Schumer is in his fourth Senate term, hav ...
, who represents New York, may be identified as "D–New York". And sometimes they are identified as to whether they are the junior or senior senator in their state ('' see above''). Unless in the context of elections, they are rarely identified by which one of the three classes of senators they are in.


Expulsion and other disciplinary actions

The Senate may expel a senator by a two-thirds vote. Fifteen senators have been expelled in the Senate's history: William Blount, for treason, in 1797, and fourteen in 1861 and 1862 for supporting the Confederate
secession Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a polity, political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Some of the most famous and significant secessions have been: the former republics of ...
. Although no senator has been expelled since 1862, many senators have chosen to resign when faced with expulsion proceedings – for example, Bob Packwood in 1995. The Senate has also censured and condemned senators;
censure A censure is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. In parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the accepted Procedural law, rules, ethics, and Norm (sociology), customs governing meetings of an deliberative assembly ...
requires only a simple majority and does not remove a senator from office. Some senators have opted to withdraw from their re-election races rather than face certain censure or expulsion, such as
Robert Torricelli Robert Guy Torricelli (born August 27, 1951), is an American attorney and former politician. A Democrat, Torricelli served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey's New Jersey's 9th congressional district, 9th district fro ...
in 2002.


Majority and minority parties

The "majority party" is the
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
that either has a majority of seats or can form a coalition or caucus with a majority of seats; if two or more parties are tied, the vice president's affiliation determines which party is the majority party. The next-largest party is known as the minority party. The president pro tempore, committee chairs, and some other officials are generally from the majority party; they have counterparts (for instance, the "ranking members" of committees) in the minority party. Independents and members of third parties (so long as they do not
caucus A caucus is a meeting of supporters or members of a specific political party or movement. The exact definition varies between different countries and political cultures. The term originated in the United States, where it can refer to a meeting ...
support either of the larger parties) are not considered in determining which is the majority party.


Seating

At one end of the chamber of the Senate is a
dais A dais or daïs ( or , American English also but sometimes considered nonstandard)dais
in the Random House Dictionary< ...
from which the presiding officer presides. The lower tier of the dais is used by clerks and other officials. One hundred desks are arranged in the chamber in a
semicircular In mathematics (and more specifically geometry), a semicircle is a one-dimensional Locus (mathematics), locus of points that forms half of a circle. The full Arc (geometry), arc of a semicircle always measures 180° (equivalently, radians, or a ...
pattern and are divided by a wide central aisle. The Democratic Party traditionally sits to the presiding officer's right, and the Republican Party traditionally sits to the presiding officer's left, regardless of which party has a majority of seats. Each senator chooses a desk based on seniority within the party. By custom, the leader of each party sits in the front row along the center aisle. Forty-eight of the desks date back to 1819, when the Senate chamber was reconstructed after the original contents were destroyed in the 1812
Burning of Washington The Burning of Washington was a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British invasion of Washington City (now Washington, D.C.), the capital of the United States, during the War of 1812#Chesapeake Campaign, Chesapeake Campaign of the W ...
. Further desks of similar design were added as new states entered the Union. It is a tradition that each senator who uses a desk inscribes their name on the inside of the desk's drawer.


Officers

Except for the president of the Senate (who is the vice president), the Senate elects its own officers, who maintain order and decorum, manage and schedule the legislative and executive business of the Senate, and interpret the Senate's rules, practices and precedents. Many non-member officers are also hired to run various day-to-day functions of the Senate.


Presiding officer

Under the Constitution, the
vice president A vice president, also director in British English, is an Corporate officer, officer in government or business who is below the President (corporate title), president (chief executive officer) in rank. It can also refer to executive vice presid ...
serves as president of the Senate. They may vote in the Senate (''
ex officio An ''ex officio'' member is a member of a body (notably a board, committee, council) who is part of it by virtue of holding another office. The term '' ex officio'' is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic la ...
'', for they are not an elected member of the Senate) in the case of a tie, but are not required to. For much of the nation's history the task of presiding over Senate sessions was one of the vice president's principal duties (the other being to receive from the states the tally of electoral ballots cast for president and vice president and to open the certificates "in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives", so that the total votes could be counted). Since the 1950s, vice presidents have presided over few Senate debates. Instead, they have usually presided only on ceremonial occasions, such as swearing in new senators, joint sessions, or at times to announce the result of significant legislation or nomination, or when a tie vote on an important issue is anticipated. The Constitution authorizes the Senate to elect a
president pro tempore A president pro tempore or speaker pro tempore is a Constitution, constitutionally recognized officer of a Legislature, legislative body who presides over the chamber in the absence of the normal presiding officer. The phrase ''pro tempore'' is L ...
(
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
for "president for a time"), who presides over the chamber in the vice president's absence and is, by custom, the senator of the majority party with the longest record of continuous service. Like the vice president, the president pro tempore does not normally preside over the Senate, but typically delegates the responsibility of presiding to a majority-party senator who presides over the Senate, usually in blocks of one hour on a rotating basis. Frequently, freshmen senators (newly elected members) are asked to preside so that they may become accustomed to the rules and procedures of the body. It is said that, "in practice they are usually mere mouthpieces for the Senate’s parliamentarian, who whispers what they should do". The presiding officer sits in a chair in the front of the Senate chamber. The powers of the presiding officer of the Senate are far less extensive than those of the speaker of the House. The presiding officer calls on senators to speak (by the rules of the Senate, the first senator who rises is recognized); ruling on points of order (objections by senators that a rule has been breached, subject to appeal to the whole chamber); and announcing the results of votes.


Party leaders

Each party elects Senate party leaders. Floor leaders act as the party chief spokesmen. The Senate majority leader is responsible for controlling the agenda of the chamber by scheduling debates and votes. Each party elects an assistant leader (whip), who works to ensure that his party's senators vote as the party leadership desires.


Non-member officers

In addition to the vice president, the Senate has several officers who are not members. The Senate's chief administrative officer is the secretary of the Senate, who maintains public records, disburses salaries, monitors the acquisition of stationery and supplies, and oversees clerks. The assistant secretary of the Senate aids the secretary's work. Another official is the
sergeant at arms Sergeant (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for ...
who, as the Senate's chief law enforcement officer, maintains order and security on the Senate premises. The Capitol Police handle routine police work, with the sergeant at arms primarily responsible for general oversight. Other employees include the
chaplain A chaplain is, traditionally, a cleric (such as a Minister (Christianity), minister, priest, pastor, rabbi, purohit, or imam), or a laity, lay representative of a religious tradition, attached to a secularity, secular institution (such as a hosp ...
, who is elected by the Senate, and pages, who are appointed.


Procedure


Daily sessions

The Senate uses Standing Rules for operation. Like the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
, the Senate meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. At one end of the chamber of the Senate is a
dais A dais or daïs ( or , American English also but sometimes considered nonstandard)dais
in the Random House Dictionary< ...
from which the presiding officer presides. The lower tier of the dais is used by clerks and other officials. Sessions of the Senate are opened with a special prayer or invocation and typically convene on weekdays. Sessions of the Senate are generally open to the public and are broadcast live on television, usually by C-SPAN 2. Senate procedure depends not only on the rules, but also on a variety of customs and traditions. The Senate commonly waives some of its stricter rules by
unanimous consent In parliamentary procedure, unanimous consent, also known as general consent, or in the case of the parliaments under the Westminster system, leave of the house (or leave of the senate), is a situation in which no member present objects to a propo ...
. Unanimous consent agreements are typically negotiated beforehand by party leaders. A senator may block such an agreement, but in practice, objections are rare. The presiding officer enforces the rules of the Senate, and may warn members who deviate from them. The presiding officer sometimes uses the gavel of the Senate to maintain order. A "
hold Hold may refer to: Physical spaces * Hold (ship), interior cargo space * Baggage hold, cargo space on an airplane * Stronghold, a castle or other fortified place Arts, entertainment, and media * Hold (musical term), a pause, also called a Fermata ...
" is placed when the leader's office is notified that a senator intends to object to a request for unanimous consent from the Senate to consider or pass a measure. A hold may be placed for any reason and can be lifted by a senator at any time. A senator may place a hold simply to review a bill, to negotiate changes to the bill, or to kill the bill. A bill can be held for as long as the senator who objects to the bill wishes to block its consideration. Holds can be overcome, but require time-consuming procedures such as filing cloture. Holds are considered private communications between a senator and the leader, and are sometimes referred to as "secret holds". A senator may disclose the placement of a hold. The Constitution provides that a majority of the Senate constitutes a
quorum A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly (a body that uses parliamentary procedure, such as a legislature) necessary to conduct the business of that group. According to ''Robert's Rules of Order, Robert's Rules of Or ...
to do business. Under the rules and customs of the Senate, a quorum is always assumed present unless a quorum call explicitly demonstrates otherwise. A senator may request a quorum call by "suggesting the absence of a quorum"; a clerk then calls the roll of the Senate and notes which members are present. In practice, senators rarely request quorum calls to establish the presence of a quorum. Instead, quorum calls are generally used to temporarily delay proceedings; usually, such delays are used while waiting for a senator to reach the floor to speak or to give leaders time to negotiate. Once the need for a delay has ended, a senator may request unanimous consent to rescind the quorum call.


Debate

Debate, like most other matters governing the internal functioning of the Senate, is governed by internal rules adopted by the Senate. During a debate, senators may only speak if called upon by the presiding officer, but the presiding officer is required to recognize the first senator who rises to speak. Thus, the presiding officer has little control over the course of the debate. Customarily, the majority leader and minority leader are accorded priority during debates even if another senator rises first. All speeches must be addressed to the presiding officer, who is addressed as "Mr. President" or "Madam President", and not to another member; other Members must be referred to in the third person. In most cases, senators do not refer to each other by name, but by state or position, using forms such as "the senior senator from Virginia", "the gentleman from California", or "my distinguished friend the chairman of the Judiciary Committee". Senators address the Senate standing next to their desks. Apart from rules governing civility, there are few restrictions on the content of speeches; there is no requirement that speeches pertain to the matter before the Senate. The rules of the Senate provide that no senator may make more than two speeches on a motion or bill on the same legislative day. A legislative day begins when the Senate convenes and ends with adjournment; hence, it does not necessarily coincide with the calendar day. The length of these speeches is not limited by the rules; thus, in most cases, senators may speak for as long as they please. Often, the Senate adopts unanimous consent agreements imposing time limits. In other cases (for example, for the budget process), limits are imposed by statute. However, the right to unlimited debate is generally preserved. Within the United States, the Senate is sometimes referred to as "world's greatest deliberative body".


Filibuster and cloture

The
filibuster A filibuster is a political procedure in which one or more members of a legislative body prolong debate on proposed legislation so as to delay or entirely prevent decision. It is sometimes referred to as "talking a bill to death" or "talking out ...
is a tactic used to defeat bills and motions by prolonging debate indefinitely. A filibuster may entail long speeches, dilatory motions, and an extensive series of proposed amendments. The Senate may end a filibuster by invoking
cloture Cloture (, also ), closure or, informally, a guillotine, is a motion (parliamentary procedure), motion or process in parliamentary procedure aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. The cloture procedure originated in the National Assembly (Fran ...
. In most cases, cloture requires the support of three-fifths of the Senate; however, if the matter before the Senate involves changing the rules of the body – this includes amending provisions regarding the filibuster – a two-thirds majority is required. In current practice, the threat of filibuster is more important than its use; almost any motion that does not have the support of three-fifths of the Senate effectively fails. This means that 41 senators can make a filibuster happen. Historically, cloture has rarely been invoked because bipartisan support is usually necessary to obtain the required
supermajority A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority, or special majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a simple majority A majority, a ...
, so a bill that already has bipartisan support is rarely subject to threats of filibuster. However, motions for cloture have increased significantly in recent years. If the Senate invokes cloture, the debate does not necessarily end immediately; instead, it is limited to up to 30 additional hours unless increased by another three-fifths vote. The longest filibuster speech in the Senate's history was delivered by
Strom Thurmond James Strom Thurmond Sr. (December 5, 1902June 26, 2003) was an American politician who represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 to 2003. Prior to his 48 years as a senator, he served as the 103rd governor of South Caro ...
(D-SC), who spoke for over 24 hours in an unsuccessful attempt to block the passage of the
Civil Rights Act of 1957 The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The bill was passed by the 85th United States Congress and signed into law by President Dwigh ...
. Under certain circumstances, the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 provides for a process called " reconciliation" by which Congress can pass bills related to the budget without those bills being subject to a filibuster. This is accomplished by limiting all Senate floor debate to 20 hours.


Voting

When the debate concludes, the motion in question is put to a vote. The Senate often votes by voice vote. The presiding officer puts the question, and members respond either "Yea/Aye" (in favor of the motion) or "Nay" (against the motion). The presiding officer then announces the result of the voice vote. A senator, however, may challenge the presiding officer's assessment and request a recorded vote. The request may be granted only if it is seconded by one-fifth of the senators present. In practice, however, senators second requests for recorded votes as a matter of courtesy. When a recorded vote is held, the clerk calls the roll of the Senate in alphabetical order; senators respond when their name is called. Senators who were not in the chamber when their name was called may still cast a vote so long as the voting remains open. The vote is closed at the discretion of the presiding officer, but must remain open for a minimum of 15 minutes. A majority of those voting determines whether the motion carries. If the vote is tied, the vice president, if present, is entitled to cast a tie-breaking vote. If the vice president is not present, the motion fails. Filibustered bills require a three-fifths majority to overcome the cloture vote (which usually means 60 votes) and get to the normal vote where a simple majority (usually 51 votes) approves the bill. This has caused some news media to confuse the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster with the 51 votes needed to approve a bill, with for example ''
USA Today ''USA Today'' (stylized in all uppercase) is an American daily middle-market newspaper and news broadcasting company. Founded by Al Neuharth on September 15, 1982, the newspaper operates from Gannett's corporate headquarters in Tysons, Virgini ...
'' erroneously stating "''The vote was 58–39 in favor of the provision establishing concealed carry permit reciprocity in the 48 states that have concealed weapons laws. That fell two votes short of the 60 needed to approve the measure''".


Closed session

On occasion, the Senate may go into what is called a secret or closed session. During a closed session, the chamber doors are closed, cameras are turned off, and the galleries are completely cleared of anyone not sworn to secrecy, not instructed in the rules of the closed session, or not essential to the session. Closed sessions are rare and usually held only when the Senate is discussing sensitive subject matter such as information critical to national security, private communications from the president, or deliberations during
impeachment Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body or other legally constituted tribunal initiates charges against a public official for misconduct. It may be understood as a unique process involving both political Politics (from , ...
trials. A senator may call for and force a closed session if the motion is seconded by at least one other member, but an agreement usually occurs beforehand. If the Senate does not approve the release of a secret transcript, the transcript is stored in the Office of Senate Security and ultimately sent to the national archives. The proceedings remain sealed indefinitely until the Senate votes to remove the injunction of secrecy. In 1973, the House adopted a rule that all committee sessions should be open unless a majority on the committee voted for a closed session.


Calendars

The Senate maintains a Senate Calendar and an Executive Calendar. The former identifies bills and resolutions awaiting Senate floor actions. The latter identifies executive resolutions, treaties, and nominations reported out by Senate committee(s) and awaiting Senate floor action. Both are updated each day the Senate is in session.


Committees

The Senate uses committees (and their subcommittees) for a variety of purposes, including the review of bills and the oversight of the executive branch. Formally, the whole Senate appoints committee members. In practice, however, the choice of members is made by the political parties. Generally, each party honors the preferences of individual senators, giving priority based on seniority. Each party is allocated seats on committees in proportion to its overall strength. Most committee work is performed by 16 standing committees, each of which has jurisdiction over a field such as
finance Finance is the study and discipline of money, currency and capital assets. It is related to, but not synonymous with economics, the study of Production (economics), production, Distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics) ...
or
foreign relations A State (polity), state's foreign policy or external policy (as opposed to internal or domestic policy) is its objectives and activities in relation to its interactions with other states, unions, and other political entities, whether bilaterall ...
. Each standing committee may consider, amend, and report bills that fall under its jurisdiction. Furthermore, each standing committee considers presidential nominations to offices related to its jurisdiction. (For instance, the Judiciary Committee considers nominees for judgeships, and the Foreign Relations Committee considers nominees for positions in the
Department of State The United States Department of State (DOS), or State Department, is an United States federal executive departments, executive department of the Federal government of the United States, U.S. federal government responsible for the country's fore ...
.) Committees may block nominees and impede bills from reaching the floor of the Senate. Standing committees also oversee the departments and agencies of the executive branch. In discharging their duties, standing committees have the power to hold hearings and to
subpoena A subpoena (; also subpœna, supenna or subpena) or witness summons is a writ issued by a government agency, most often a court, to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. There are two common types of ...
witnesses and evidence. The Senate also has several committees that are not considered standing committees. Such bodies are generally known as select or special committees; examples include the Select Committee on Ethics and the Special Committee on Aging. Legislation is referred to some of these committees, although the bulk of legislative work is performed by the standing committees. Committees may be established on an ''ad hoc'' basis for specific purposes; for instance, the Senate Watergate Committee was a special committee created to investigate the
Watergate scandal The Watergate scandal was a major political scandal in the United States involving the administration of President Richard Nixon from 1972 to 1974 that led to Nixon's resignation. The scandal stemmed from the Nixon administration's continual ...
. Such temporary committees cease to exist after fulfilling their tasks. The Congress includes joint committees, which include members from both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Some joint committees oversee independent government bodies; for instance, the Joint Committee on the Library oversees the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or digital access (so ...
. Other joint committees serve to make advisory reports; for example, there exists a Joint Committee on Taxation. Bills and nominees are not referred to joint committees. Hence, the power of joint committees is considerably lower than those of standing committees. Each Senate committee and subcommittee is led by a chair (usually a member of the majority party). Formerly, committee chairs were determined purely by seniority; as a result, several elderly senators continued to serve as chair despite severe physical infirmity or even senility. Committee chairs are elected, but, in practice, seniority is rarely bypassed. The chairs hold extensive powers: they control the committee's agenda, and so decide how much, if any, time to devote to the consideration of a bill; they act with the power of the committee in disapproving or delaying a bill or a nomination by the president; they manage on the floor of the full Senate the consideration of those bills the committee reports. This last role was particularly important in mid-century, when floor amendments were thought not to be collegial. They also have considerable influence: senators who cooperate with their committee chairs are likely to accomplish more good for their states than those who do not. The Senate rules and customs were reformed in the twentieth century, largely in the 1970s. Committee chairmen have less power and are generally more moderate and collegial in exercising it, than they were before reform. The second-highest member, the spokesperson on the committee for the minority party, is known in most cases as the ranking member. In the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee on Ethics, however, the senior minority member is known as the vice-chair.


Criticism

Malapportionment of voters, where small states get equal say as large states, means that voters are given vastly different power. It turns out that no legislature in the democratic world is as unrepresentative as the U.S. Senate. ''New York Times'' opinion columnist
David Leonhardt David Leonhardt (born January 1, 1973) is an American journalist and columnist. Since April 30, 2020, he has written the daily "The Morning" newsletter for ''The New York Times''. He also contributes to the paper's Sunday Review section. His colu ...
provides the example of how small states are so disproportionately non-Hispanic European American, that African Americans have only 75% of their proportionate voting power in the Senate, whereas Hispanic Americans have just 55%. Recent criticisms of the Senate's operations object to what the critics argue is obsolescence as a result of partisan paralysis and a preponderance of arcane rules. The Senate filibuster, for example, is frequently debated as the Constitution specifies a simple majority threshold to pass legislation, and some critics feel the de facto three-fifths threshold for general legislation prevents beneficial laws from passing. (The nuclear option was exercised by both parties in the 2010s to eliminate the filibuster for confirmations.) Supporters generally consider the filibuster to be an important protection for the minority views and a check against the unfettered single-party rule when the same party holds the Presidency and a majority in both the House and Senate.


Senate office buildings

There are presently three Senate office buildings located along Constitution Avenue, north of the Capitol. They are the
Russell Senate Office Building The Russell Senate Office Building is the oldest of the United States Senate office buildings. Designed in the Beaux-Arts architecture, Beaux-Arts architectural style, it was built from 1903 to 1908 and opened in 1909. It was named for former ...
, the Dirksen Senate Office Building, and the
Hart Senate Office Building The Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building is the third United States Senate, U.S. Senate office building, and is located on 2nd Street NE between Constitution Avenue NE and C Street NE in Washington, D.C., in the United States. Construction beg ...
.


Functions


Legislation

Bills may be introduced in either chamber of Congress. However, the Constitution's Origination Clause provides that "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives". As a result, the Senate does not have the power to initiate bills imposing taxes. Furthermore, the House of Representatives holds that the Senate does not have the power to originate
appropriation bill An appropriation, also known as supply bill or spending bill, is a proposed law that authorizes the expenditure of government funds. It is a bill that sets money aside for specific spending. In some democracies, approval of the legislature is ne ...
s, or bills authorizing the expenditure of federal funds.Saturno, James.
The Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution: Interpretation and Enforcement
", CRS Report for Congress (Mar-15-2011).
Wirls, Daniel and Wirls, Stephen.
The Invention of the United States Senate
'', p. 188 (Taylor & Francis 2004).
Historically, the Senate has disputed the interpretation advocated by the House. However, when the Senate originates an appropriations bill, the House simply refuses to consider it, thereby settling the dispute in practice. The constitutional provision barring the Senate from introducing revenue bills is based on the practice of the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of We ...
, in which money bills approved by Parliament have originated in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
per constitutional convention.Sargent, Noel.
Bills for Raising Revenue Under the Federal and State Constitutions
", '' Minnesota Law Review'', Vol. 4, p. 330 (1919).
Although the Constitution gave the House the power to initiate revenue bills, in practice the Senate is equal to the House in the respect of spending. As
Woodrow Wilson Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856February 3, 1924) was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the History of the Democratic Party (United States), Demo ...
wrote: The approval of both houses is required for any bill, including a revenue bill, to become law. Both Houses must pass the same version of the bill; if there are differences, they may be resolved by sending amendments back and forth or by a conference committee, which includes members of both bodies.


Checks and balances

The Constitution provides several unique functions for the Senate that form its ability to "check and balance" the powers of other elements of the federal government. These include the requirement that the Senate may advise and must consent to some of the president's government appointments; also the Senate must consent to all treaties with foreign governments; it tries all impeachments, and it elects the vice president in the event no person gets a majority of the electoral votes. The president can make certain appointments only with the
advice and consent Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bills and in other legal or constitutional contexts. It describes either of two situations: where a weak executive branch The Executive, also referred as the ...
of the Senate. Officials whose appointments require the Senate's approval include members of the Cabinet, heads of most federal executive agencies,
ambassador An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sov ...
s, justices of the Supreme Court, and other federal judges. Under Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, a large number of government appointments are subject to potential confirmation; however, Congress has passed legislation to authorize the appointment of many officials without the Senate's consent (usually, confirmation requirements are reserved for those officials with the most significant final decision-making authority). Typically, a nominee is the first subject to a hearing before a Senate committee. Thereafter, the nomination is considered by the full Senate. The majority of nominees are confirmed, but in a small number of cases each year, Senate committees purposely fail to act on a nomination to block it. In addition, the president sometimes withdraws nominations when they appear unlikely to be confirmed. Because of this, outright rejections of nominees on the Senate floor are infrequent (there have been only nine Cabinet nominees rejected outright in United States history). The powers of the Senate concerning nominations are, however, subject to some constraints. For instance, the Constitution provides that the president may make an appointment during a congressional recess without the Senate's advice and consent. The
recess appointment In the United States, a recess appointment is an appointment by the President of the United States, president of a Officer of the United States, federal official when the United States Senate, U.S. Senate is in Recess (motion), recess. Under the ...
remains valid only temporarily; the office becomes vacant again at the end of the next congressional session. Nevertheless, presidents have frequently used recess appointments to circumvent the possibility that the Senate may reject the nominee. Furthermore, as the Supreme Court held in '' Myers v. United States'', although the Senate's advice and consent are required for the appointment of certain executive branch officials, it is not necessary for their removal.
Recess appointment In the United States, a recess appointment is an appointment by the President of the United States, president of a Officer of the United States, federal official when the United States Senate, U.S. Senate is in Recess (motion), recess. Under the ...
s have faced a significant amount of resistance and in 1960, the U.S. Senate passed a legally non-binding resolution against recess appointments. The Senate also has a role in ratifying treaties. The Constitution provides that the president may only "make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the senators present concur" in order to benefit from the Senate's advice and consent and give each state an equal vote in the process. However, not all international agreements are considered treaties under U.S. domestic law, even if they are considered treaties under international law. Congress has passed laws authorizing the president to conclude
executive agreement An executive agreement is an agreement between the head of government, heads of government of two or more nations that has not been ratified by the legislature as treaty, treaties are ratified. Executive agreements are considered ''politically b ...
s without action by the Senate. Similarly, the president may make congressional-executive agreements with the approval of a simple majority in each House of Congress, rather than a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Neither executive agreements nor congressional-executive agreements are mentioned in the Constitution, leading some scholars such as Laurence Tribe and John Yoo to suggest that they unconstitutionally circumvent the treaty-ratification process. However, courts have upheld the validity of such agreements. The Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to
impeach Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body or other legally constituted tribunal initiates charges against a official, public official for misconduct. It may be understood as a unique process involving both political and Law, legal ...
federal officials for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" and empowers the Senate to try such impeachments. If the sitting president of the United States is being tried, the chief justice of the United States presides over the trial. During an impeachment trial, senators are constitutionally required to sit on oath or affirmation. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority of the senators present. A convicted official is automatically removed from office; in addition, the Senate may stipulate that the defendant be banned from holding office. No further punishment is permitted during the impeachment proceedings; however, the party may face criminal penalties in a normal court of law. The House of Representatives has impeached sixteen officials, of whom seven were convicted (one resigned before the Senate could complete the trial).Complete list of impeachment trials.
United States Senate. Retrieved November 20, 2007
Only three presidents have been impeached:
Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808July 31, 1875) was the 17th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president direc ...
in 1868,
Bill Clinton William Jefferson Clinton (Birth name, né Blythe III; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. He previously served as governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 ...
in 1998, and
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pe ...
in 2019 and 2021. The trials of Johnson, Clinton and both Trump trials ended in acquittal; in Johnson's case, the Senate fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction. Under the Twelfth Amendment, the Senate has the power to elect the vice president if no vice-presidential candidate receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College. The Twelfth Amendment requires the Senate to choose from the two candidates with the highest numbers of electoral votes. Electoral College deadlocks are rare. The Senate has only broken a deadlock once; in 1837, it elected
Richard Mentor Johnson Richard Mentor Johnson (October 17, 1780 – November 19, 1850) was an American lawyer, military officer and politician who served as the ninth vice president of the United States The vice president of the United States (VPOTUS) is the ...
. The House elects the president if the Electoral College deadlocks on that choice.


See also

* Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate *
Elections in the United States Elections in the United States are held for Official, government officials at the Federal government of the United States, federal, State governments of the United States, state, and Local government in the United States, local levels. At the ...
*
List of African-American United States senators This is a list of African Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an Race and ethnicity in the United States, ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saha ...
*
List of Current United States Senators The United States Senate consists of 100 members, two from each of the 50 U.S. state, states. This list includes all current senators serving in the 117th United States Congress. Party affiliation Independent senators caucus with the Dem ...
* United States presidents and control of Congress *
Women in the United States Senate This article covers the history of women in the United States Senate and various milestones achieved by female senators. It includes a list of all women who have served in the Senate, a list of current female senators, and a list of states repre ...


Notes


References


Bibliography

* Baker, Richard A. ''The Senate of the United States: A Bicentennial History'' Krieger, 1988. * Baker, Richard A., ed., ''First Among Equals: Outstanding Senate Leaders of the Twentieth Century'' Congressional Quarterly, 1991. * Barone, Michael, and Grant Ujifusa, ''The Almanac of American Politics 1976: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts'' (1975); new edition every 2 years * David W. Brady and Mathew D. McCubbins. ''Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress: New Perspectives on the History of Congress'' (2002) * Caro, Robert A. '' The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Vol. 3: Master of the Senate.'' Knopf, 2002. * Comiskey, Michael. ''Seeking Justices: The Judging of Supreme Court Nominees'' U. Press of Kansas, 2004. * Congressional Quarterly ''Congress and the Nation XII: 2005–2008: Politics and Policy in the 109th and 110th Congresses'' (2010); massive, highly detailed summary of Congressional activity, as well as major executive and judicial decisions; based on ''Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report'' and the annual CQ almanac. The ''Congress and the Nation 2009–2012'' vol XIII has been announced for September 2014 publication. ** Congressional Quarterly '' Congress and the Nation: 2001–2004'' (2005); ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1997–2001'' (2002) ** Congressional Quarterly. ''Congress and the Nation: 1993–1996'' (1998) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1989–1992'' (1993) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1985–1988'' (1989) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1981–1984'' (1985) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1977–1980'' (1981) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1973–1976'' (1977) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1969–1972'' (1973) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1965–1968'' (1969) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1945–1964'' (1965), the first of the series * Cooper, John Milton, Jr. ''Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations.'' Cambridge U. Press, 2001. * Davidson, Roger H., and Walter J. Oleszek, eds. (1998). ''Congress and Its Members'', 6th ed. Washington DC: ''Congressional Quarterly.'' (Legislative procedure, informal practices, and member information) * Gould, Lewis L. ''The Most Exclusive Club: A History Of The Modern United States Senate'' (2005) * Hernon, Joseph Martin. ''Profiles in Character: Hubris and Heroism in the U.S. Senate, 1789–1990'' Sharpe, 1997. * Hoebeke, C. H. ''The Road to Mass Democracy: Original Intent and the Seventeenth Amendment''. Transaction Books, 1995. (Popular elections of senators) * Lee, Frances E. and Oppenheimer, Bruce I. ''Sizing Up the Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation''. U. of Chicago Press 1999. 304 pp. * MacNeil, Neil and Richard A. Baker. ''The American Senate: An Insider's History.'' Oxford University Press, 2013. 455 pp. * McFarland, Ernest W. ''The Ernest W. McFarland Papers: The United States Senate Years, 1940–1952''. Prescott, Ariz.: Sharlot Hall Museum, 1995 (Democratic majority leader 1950–52) * Malsberger, John W. ''From Obstruction to Moderation: The Transformation of Senate Conservatism, 1938–1952''. Susquehanna U. Press 2000 * Mann, Robert. ''The Walls of Jericho: Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Russell and the Struggle for Civil Rights''. Harcourt Brace, 1996 * * * * Rothman, David. ''Politics and Power the United States Senate 1869–1901'' (1966) * Swift, Elaine K. ''The Making of an American Senate: Reconstitutive Change in Congress, 1787–1841''. U. of Michigan Press, 1996 * Valeo, Frank. ''Mike Mansfield, Majority Leader: A Different Kind of Senate, 1961–1976'' Sharpe, 1999 (Senate Democratic leader) * VanBeek, Stephen D. ''Post-Passage Politics: Bicameral Resolution in Congress''. U. of Pittsburgh Press 1995 * Weller, Cecil Edward, Jr. ''Joe T. Robinson: Always a Loyal Democrat.'' U. of Arkansas Press, 1998. (Arkansas Democrat who was Majority leader in 1930s) * Wilson, Woodrow. ''Congressional Government''. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1885; also 15th ed. 1900, repr. by photoreprint, Transaction books, 2002. * Wirls, Daniel and Wirls, Stephen. ''The Invention of the United States Senate'' Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2004. (Early history) * Zelizer, Julian E. ''On Capitol Hill : The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948–2000'' (2006) * Zelizer, Julian E., ed. ''The American Congress: The Building of Democracy'' (2004) (overview)


Official Senate histories

* ''
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress The ''Biographical Directory of the United States Congress'' (Bioguide) is a biographical dictionary of all present and former members of the United States Congress and its predecessor, the Continental Congress. Also included are Delegate (Unite ...
, 1774–1989'' The following are published by the Senate Historical Office. *
Robert Byrd Robert Carlyle Byrd (born Cornelius Calvin Sale Jr.; November 20, 1917 – June 28, 2010) was an American politician and musician who served as a United States senator from West Virginia for over 51 years, from 1959 until his death in 2010. A ...
. ''The Senate, 1789–1989''. Four volumes. ** Vol. I, a chronological series of addresses on the history of the Senate ** Vol. II, a topical series of addresses on various aspects of the Senate's operation and powers ** Vol. III, Classic Speeches, 1830–1993 ** Vol. IV, Historical Statistics, 1789–1992 * Dole, Bob. ''Historical Almanac of the United States Senate'' * Hatfield, Mark O., with the Senate Historical Office. ''Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789–1993''
essays reprinted online
* Frumin, Alan S.

'. Washington, D.C.:
Government Printing Office The United States Government Publishing Office (USGPO or GPO; formerly the United States Government Printing Office) is an agency of the Legislature, legislative branch of the United States Federal government. The office produces and distribute ...
, 1992.


External links


The United States Senate Official Website
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Sortable contact data
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Senate Chamber Map
** Standing Rules of the Senate**
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present
'

via PoliticalGraveyard.com

via Texas Tech University
A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787–1825
, via Tufts University

* * ttp://www.c-span.org/video/?45919-1/28th-anniversary-tv-cameras-senate First U.S. Senate session aired by C-SPANvia C-SPAN
Senate Manual
via govinfo.gov (U.S. Government Publishing Office)


Information about U.S. Bills and Resolutions
* {{Authority control National upper houses 1789 establishments in the United States Legislative branch of the United States government