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How Congress Works

Rules of the Senate


PDF of Rule XXIX

1. When the President of the United States shall meet the Senate in the Senate Chamber for the consideration of Executive business, he shall have a seat on the right of the Presiding Officer. When the Senate shall be convened by the President of the United States to any other place, the Presiding Officer of the Senate and the Senators shall attend at the place appointed, with the necessary officers of the Senate.

2. When acting upon confidential or Executive business, unless the same shall be considered in open Executive session, the Senate Chamber shall be cleared of all persons except the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary, the Principal Legislative Clerk, the Parliamentarian, the Executive Clerk, the Minute and Journal Clerk, the Sergeant at Arms, the Secretaries to the Majority and the Minority, and such other officers as the Presiding Officer shall think necessary; and all such officers shall be sworn to secrecy.

3. All confidential communications made by the President of the United States to the Senate shall be by the Senators and the officers of the Senate kept secret; and all treaties which may be laid before the Senate, and all remarks, votes, and proceedings thereon shall also be kept secret, until the Senate shall, by their resolution, take off the injunction of secrecy.

4. Whenever the injunction of secrecy shall be removed from any part of the proceedings of the Senate in closed Executive or legislative session, the order of the Senate removing the same shall be entered in the Legislative Journal as well as in the Executive Journal, and shall be published in the Congressional Record under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate.

5. Any Senator, officer, or employee of the Senate who shall disclose the secret or confidential business or proceedings of the Senate, including the business and proceedings of the committees, subcommittees, and offices of the Senate, shall be liable, if a Senator, to suffer expulsion from the body; and if an officer or employee, to dismissal from the service of the Senate, and to punishment for contempt.

6. Whenever, by the request of the Senate or any committee thereof, any documents or papers shall be communicated to the Senate by the President or the head of any department relating to any matter pending in the Senate, the proceedings in regard to which are secret or confidential under the rules, said documents and papers shall be considered as confidential, and shall not be disclosed without leave of the Senate.