Difference between revisions of "United States Senate"

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Revision as of 11:26, 23 August 2013


General overview

The United States Senate is one of the two chambers of the United States Congress; the other is the House of Representatives.


Members of the Senate are called senators. Each of the fifty states is given two Senate seats. Washington D.C. and territories, such as Puerto Rico and Guam, do not receive any delegates to the Senate.

Each Senator serves for a six-year term. There are no term limits.[1]


According to the U.S. Constitution, Senators must meet the following requirements:[2]

  • At least 30 years old
  • A U.S. citizen for at least nine years
  • A resident of the state he or she represents

Additionally, all 50 states maintain requirements related to running for election. These filing requirements vary and can include:

  • A filing fee
  • A petition with a minimum number of valid signatures

Section. 3
Clause 1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Clause 2: Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.
Clause 3: No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
Clause 4: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
Clause 5: The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
Clause 6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Clause 7: Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.[3]

The U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 3


Constitutionally mandated officers

  • President of the Senate: The Vice-President of the United States is also the President of the Senate. While they cannot normally vote on Senate matters, they preside over the senate and act as a tie-breaker. They also receive and announce the tally of the electoral college vote for president and vice-president before the senate.[4]
  • President Pro Tempore: Fills in for the President of the Senate when they are absent. They are also the third in the line of success for the President. In recent years the role has largely been given to popular senators from the majority party.[5]

Political leaders

  • Political leaders include the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader, as well as the Majority Whip and the Minority Whip.[6]

Elected Senate officers

  • The Chaplain: The Senate Chaplain provides spiritual services and counseling to senate members, family, and staff.[7]
  • Party Secretaries: Each party elects a party secretary to aid in communication of senate business.[8]
  • The Secretary of the Senate: The Secretary of the Senate performs a wide range of administrative duties, from record keeping, to procurement and information technology.[9]
  • The Sergeant at Arms: The Sergeant at Arms is the chief law enforcement officer of the senate. They hold the jurisdiction to take senators to the Senate Chamber to form a quorum, enforce Senate rules, and even arrest the President of the United States if so ordered by the Senate. The Sergeant at Arms is in charge of maintaining security for the Senate Chamber, the Senate wing of the capital, other Senate buildings. Finally, they keep the gavel used to start daily senate business.[10]


There are 20 main committees, 68 subcommittees in the the U.S. Senate. There are also several joint committees with the U.S. House of Representative. In general, the committees have legislative jurisdiction, with specific topics dealt out to the subcommittees. The majority party chairs and receives the most seats on committees. However, senators are limited to the number of committees they may take part it.

Legislation goes through committees before it reaches the full senate for debate and approval.[11]

The main committees are:[12]


Every two years, 33 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for election. Seats in the U.S. Senate for the purposes of determining the year of an election are defined as Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Elections for these seats take place in this rotation:

  • 2012: Class 1.
  • 2014: Class 2.
  • 2016: Class 3.


See also: U.S. Senate elections, 2014

Elections to the U.S. Senate will be held on November 4, 2014. 35 seats are up for election, including 2 special elections to fill vacancies in seats that would not otherwise have a 2014 election (Hawaii and South Carolina). Democrats holds 20 of the contested seats, and Republicans hold 15.

U.S. Senate Partisan Breakdown
Party As of 2014 Election After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 53 44
     Republican Party 45 54
     Independent 2 2
Total 100 100


See also: U.S. Senate elections, 2012

Elections to the U.S. Senate were held on November 6, 2012. Of the 33 seats up for election, 23 were held by Democrats and 10 by Republicans. The Democratic Party retained control over the chamber, winning 25 of the 33 seats. With Republican candidates winning only eight seats, this was the worst performance by a major party since the 1950s.[13]

U.S. Senate Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 51 53
     Republican Party 47 45
     Independent 2 2
Total 100 100

See also

External links


(See the bottom of the next tab)


As of 2012, most senators are paid $174,000 per year. Majority and minority leaders, as well as the president pro tempore, receive $193,400.[14]

Some historical facts about the salary of U.S. Senate members:

  • In 1789, members of the Senate received $6 per diem[14]
  • In 1874, members of the Senate earned $5,000 per year[14]
  • In 1990, members of the Senate earned $98,400 per year[14]
  • From 2000-2006, the salary of a member of the U.S. Senate increased every year, going from $141,300-$165,200 in that time span.[14]

Voting with the party

According to OpenCongress, a website that tracks how often members of Congress vote with the majority of their party caucus. In June of 2012 there were 51 Democrats and 47 republicans tracked.


  • The average (mean) Democrat voted with the party approximately 92.1% of the team.
  • The average (medium) Democrat voted with the party approximately 92.7% of the time.
  • The top Democrat voted with the party approximately 96.1% of the time.
  • The bottom Democrat voted with the party approximately 81.5% of the time.


  • The average (mean) Republican voted with the party approximately 87.2% of the team.
  • The average (medium) Republican voted with the party approximately 89.3% of the time.
  • The top Republican voted with the party approximately 94.0% of the time.
  • The bottom Republican voted with the party approximately 67.4%% of the time.

Net worth

See also: Net Worth of United States Senators and Representatives

The average net worth of members of the Senate, based on data from OpenSecrets.org, is as follows:[17]

Year # in Senate Reports Senate Average Senate Std Dev
2010 116 $13,224,333 $34,978,652
2009 116 $13,229,651 $35,913,577
2008 110 $13,835,333. $38,866,085
2007 106 $17,170,451 $49,007,497
2006 107 $14,106,027 $44,182,270
2005 101 $14,553,612 $41,993,697
2004 105 $14,455,289 $41,653,112

Note: Report numbers may reflect incoming and outgoing members of congress.

113th Congress: U.S. Senate Demographic summary

The 113th Congress is the most diverse Congress in the nation's history, owing to a record number of newly elected women and minorities.[18]

New members, including the first Buddhist to hold a seat in the Senate, were elected on November 6, 2012.[18] Senator Tim Scott, who was appointed to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint, is the first African American Republican in the Senate since 1979.

Currently, there are 3 Latino, 1 African American, and 20 female members of the U.S. Senate.[18][19]


Current Senators

The following is a simple list of the current members of the U.S. Senate


  1. Jeff Sessions
  2. Richard Shelby


  1. Daniel S. Sullivan
  2. Lisa Murkowski


  1. Jeff Flake
  2. John McCain


  1. John Boozman
  2. Tom Cotton


  1. Barbara Boxer
  2. Dianne Feinstein


  1. Cory Gardner
  2. Michael Bennet


  1. Chris Murphy (Connecticut)
  2. Richard Blumenthal


  1. Chris Coons
  2. Tom Carper


  1. Bill Nelson (Florida)
  2. Marco Rubio


  1. David Perdue
  2. Johnny Isakson


  1. Brian Schatz
  2. Mazie Hirono


  1. Jim Risch
  2. Mike Crapo


  1. Dick Durbin
  2. Mark Kirk


  1. Dan Coats
  2. Joe Donnelly


  1. Chuck Grassley
  2. Joni Ernst


  1. Jerry Moran
  2. Pat Roberts


  1. Mitch McConnell
  2. Rand Paul


  1. Bill Cassidy
  2. David Vitter


  1. Angus King
  2. Susan Collins


  1. Barbara Mikulski
  2. Ben Cardin


  1. Ed Markey
  2. Elizabeth Warren


  1. Debbie Stabenow
  2. Gary Peters


  1. Al Franken
  2. Amy Klobuchar


  1. Roger Wicker
  2. Thad Cochran


  1. Claire McCaskill
  2. Roy Blunt


  1. Jon Tester
  2. Steve Daines


  1. Ben Sasse
  2. Deb Fischer


  1. Dean Heller
  2. Harry Reid

New Hampshire

  1. Jeanne Shaheen
  2. Kelly Ayotte

New Jersey

  1. Bob Menendez
  2. Cory Booker

New Mexico

  1. Martin Heinrich
  2. Tom Udall

New York

  1. Chuck Schumer
  2. Kirsten Gillibrand

North Carolina

  1. Richard Burr
  2. Thom Tillis

North Dakota

  1. Heidi Heitkamp
  2. John Hoeven


  1. Rob Portman
  2. Sherrod Brown


  1. James Lankford
  2. Jim Inhofe


  1. Jeff Merkley
  2. Ron Wyden


  1. Bob Casey, Jr.
  2. Pat Toomey

Rhode Island

  1. Jack Reed
  2. Sheldon Whitehouse

South Carolina

  1. Lindsey Graham
  2. Tim Scott

South Dakota

  1. John Thune
  2. Mike Rounds


  1. Bob Corker
  2. Lamar Alexander


  1. John Cornyn
  2. Ted Cruz


  1. Mike Lee (Utah)
  2. Orrin Hatch


  1. Bernie Sanders
  2. Patrick Leahy


  1. Mark Warner
  2. Tim Kaine


  1. Maria Cantwell
  2. Patty Murray

West Virginia

  1. Joe Manchin III
  2. Shelley Moore Capito


  1. Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)
  2. Tammy Baldwin


  1. John Barrasso
  2. Mike Enzi