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Inaugural Web site
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has launched a Web site to provide up-to-date information about the 2009 Presidential Inauguration and related ceremonies along with historical information and photos of inaugurals past.
This Week in Senate History
Image of U.S. Capitol in 1800
November 21, 1800

Following a ten-year temporary residence in Philadelphia, the Senate met for the first time in the District of Columbia. Construction of the new capitol had begun in 1793, but materials and labor proved to be more expensive than anticipated. Facing major funding shortfalls, the building's commissioners in 1796 decided to halt construction of the House wing and the domed center building to concentrate on the north wing, designed for the Senate.

American Indian Heritage Month
During the month of November, the United States celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month. Learn More.
2008 Session Schedule
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Floor Schedule

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2008

10:00 a.m.: Convene for a pro forma session.

Previous Meeting

Monday, Nov 24, 2008

The Senate convened at 9:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. No record votes were taken.

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Pro Tem: The Senate's President Pro Tempore

The Constitution requires the Senate to elect a president pro tempore to serve as presiding officer in the absence of the vice president. The president pro tempore is authorized to preside over the Senate, sign legislation, and issue the oath of office to new senators.

John J. Ingalls (KS)  First President Pro Tempore John Langdon (NH) President Pro Tempore Thomas W. Ferry (MI)
John J. Ingalls John Langdon Thomas W. Ferry

For many years, the vice president routinely presided over the Senate, and presidents pro tempore were elected to serve only during the absence of the vice president. To give the office continuity, in 1890 the Senate established continuous terms for the president pro tempore. In his or her absence, the president pro tempore names other senators to perform the duties of the chair, allowing them to grow more accustomed to the Senate's rules and procedures. In the Senate's earlier years, it elected to the post senior members who had shown a particular knowledge of Senate rules and procedures. Since the mid-20th century, tradition has dictated that the position go to the senior member of the majority party. The Senate's president pro tempore also stands third in the line of presidential succession.

To learn more about the president pro tempore, the vice president, or other Senate officers, visit the Virtual Reference Desk, or read the new publication from the Senate Historical Office, Pro Tem.

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