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Officers and Staff

Senate employees ensure that the business of the Senate runs smoothly. Staff members include not only Senators' personal and committee staff, but also the officers of the Senate who are responsible for keeping and managing records, maintaining computer systems, and a myriad of other important tasks. Visit the Office of the Senate Historian's page on Officers and Staff of the Senate for more information.


President of the Senate

According to Article 1, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided."  Other than being prepared to succeed to the presidency if needed, the vice president's only constitutional role in government is to preside over the Senate.  Although vice presidents regularly presided in the Senate during the 19th century and through much of the early 20th century, today vice presidents preside only on ceremonial occasions and when their vote is needed to break a tie .

Presidents of the Senate:  History and List

Presiding Officer Stripped of Powers, March 4, 1825

Votes by Vice Presidents to Break Tie Votes in the Senate (since 1981)

Votes by Vice Presidents to Break Tie Votes in the Senate (since 1789)  (pdf)

Senate Vice Presidential Bust Collection

President Pro Tempore of the Senate

The Constitution provides for a president pro tempore to preside over the Senate in the absence of the vice president. By tradition, this position goes to the senior member of the majority party . Since 1890, the president pro tem has held office continuously until the election of another. The president pro tem is third in the line of presidential succession , behind the vice president and the Speaker of the House.

Presidents Pro Tempore of the Senate:  History and List

Secretary of the Senate

As an elected officer of the Senate, the Secretary of the Senate supervises an extensive array of offices and services to expedite the day-to-day operations of the United States Senate.

Secretary of the Senate:  History and List

Secretary of the Senate:  Background

The Senate Elects a Secretary, April 8, 1789

Oral History of Francis R. Valeo , Secretary of the Senate, 1966-1977

Sergeant at Arms

The Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, elected by Senators, serves as the protocol and chief law enforcement officer and is the principal administrative manager for most support services in the Senate.

Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper:  History and List

Office of the Sergeant Arms:  Background

Senate Doorkeeper, April 7, 1789

Compulsory Attendance, June 25, 1798

Office of the Senate Legislative Counsel

The Office of the Senate Legislative Counsel provides confidential, nonpartisan legislative drafting services for Senators and committees. Bill drafting services are available, on request, with priority given to legislation with impending action. The Legislative Counsel, appointed by the president pro tempore, is responsible for the management and administration of the office.

Office of the Senate Legislative Counsel Web Site

Office of Legislative Counsel: Senate (pdf)

Office of the Senate Chaplain

The Senate elected its first chaplain on April 25, 1789, continuing a tradition established by the Continental Congress.  In addition to opening each day's session with a prayer, the chaplain provides spiritual care and counseling for Senators, their families, and their staffs.

Senate Chaplain:  History and List

Chaplain's Office:  Background

House and Senate Chaplains (pdf)

The Senate Elects a Chaplain, October 10, 1942

Party Secretaries

Both major parties elect a party secretary--a secretary for the majority and a secretary for the minority . Seated on either side of the Senate chamber, the party secretaries keep Senators updated on floor and legislative activities, and see that Republican and Democratic cloakrooms are staffed and pages are at their posts.

Party Secretaries:  History and List

Related Item

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