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United States Senate

The United States Senate is the upper house of the Congress of the United
States, the lower house of which is the U.S. House of Representatives.
Together, they comprise the legislative branch of the United States government.

The name of the U.S. Senate is taken from the ancient Roman Senate.

The Senate chamber is located in the south wing of the U. S. Capitol
building, in Washington, D.C..

Each state elects two senators through statewide elections, for a total of
100 senators. If a vacancy occurs between elections, generally the governor
of the state appoints a replacement to serve as senator until the next
biennial election.

The Constitution of the United States endows the U.S. Senate with the
responsibly for confirming important Presidential appointments, particularly
federal judges (as part of the system of checks and balances), and with the
authority to accept or reject international treaties negotiated by the executive.

Operation

Unlike the United States House of Representatives there are no strict rules
regarding the debate, and one strategy used by senators to kill a bill is to
filibuster which is to continue to debate the bill thereby preventing its
passage. On March 8, 1917 the power of the filibuster was considerably
reduced in theory by the cloture rule in which 60 senators can sign a
petition to end debate (the initial version of the rule called for 2/3 but
that was later reduced to 60). In practice, this rule is rarely used as
Senators are reluctant to end debate so forcefully and may avoid breaking a
filibuster to prevent retaliation against possible future filibusters of
their own. The first ongoing filibuster in the Senate began on February 18,
1841 and lasted until March 11. The longest filibuster in the US Senate was
delivered by Strom Thurmond. He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in an
unsuccessful attempt to block the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He began by
reading the entire text of each state's election laws.

Leadership

   * Majority leader
   * Minority leader
   * Majority whip
   * Minority whip
   * President pro tempore of the United States Senate
   * Historic Members of the United States Senate

Composition and elections

With two Senators from each state, the Senate presently has 100 members. For
details, see the current list of United States Senators. The Senate
originally had 26 members. Senators serve for terms of six years; the terms
are staggered so that approximately one-third of the Senate is up for
election every two years: each time there are elections in about 33 states
for one of the two seats. They coincide with the elections for the House of
Representatives; alternately they coincide with the presidential election;
when they do not, they are called mid-term elections.

When the major parties are evenly split, the party affiliation of the Vice
President, as the tie-breaker vote, determines which is the majority party.

Committees

Much of the business of the Senate is done in committee. There are three
categories of committee: Standing, Joint and "Special, Select or Other."
Committees usually have their own staffs, separate from the staffs of
individual members. Committees often have subcommittees. Each committee has
a chairperson and a ranking minority leader.

Because the Senate is smaller, the committees within the Senate are
generally less powerful than the corresponding committees in the House. The
exceptions to this are the Judiciary Committee which reviews Presidential
appointments to federal judgeships, and the Foreign Relations Committee
which reviews treaties.

Standing Committees of the U.S. Senate

   * Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
   * Appropriations
   * Armed Services
   * Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
   * Budget
   * Commerce, Science, and Transportation
   * Energy and Natural Resources
   * Environment and Public Works
   * Finance
   * Foreign Relations
   * Governmental Affairs
   * Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
   * Judiciary
   * Rules and Administration
   * Small Business and Entrepreneurship
   * Veterans Affairs

Joint Committees of Congress

   * Joint Committee on Printing
   * Joint Committee on Taxation
   * Joint Committee on the Library
   * Joint Economic Committee

Special, Select and Other Committees of the U.S. Senate

   * Indian Affairs
   * Select Committee on Ethics
   * Select Committee on Intelligence
   * Special Committee on Aging

During the 108th Congress (2003-2005)

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 +* * * ** * * ** * * ** * * ** * * ** * * *
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 +Republicans: 51  - Independent: 1 (James Jeffords (I-VT) votes with the
                     Democrats.)
 *Democrats: 48    +

   * Senate Pages

History

The first session of Senate to be open to the public was held on February
11, 1794 and on February 27, 1986 the Senate allowed its debates to be
televised on a trial basis (which was later made permanent).

Senate Salaries

Historical information on the salaries Senators have been paid:

   * 1789-1815 -- $6.00 per diem
   * 1815-1817 -- $1,500 per annum
   * 1817-1855 -- $8.00 per diem
   * 1855-1865 -- $3,000 per annum
   * 1865-1871 -- $5,000 per annum
   * 1871-1873 -- $7,500 per annum
   * 1873-1907 -- $5,000 per annum
   * 1907-1925 -- $7,500 per annum
   * 1925-1932 -- $10,000 per annum
   * 1932-1933 -- $9,000 per annum
   * 1933-1935 -- $8,500 per annum
   * 1935-1947 -- $10,000 per annum
   * 1947-1955 -- $12,500 per annum
   * 1955-1965 -- $22,500 per annum
   * 1965-1969 -- $30,000 per annum
   * 1969-1975 -- $42,500 per annum
   * 1975-1977 -- $44,600 per annum
   * 1977-1978 -- $57,500 per annum
   * 1979-1983 -- $60,662.50 per annum
   * 1983 -- $69,800 per annum
   * 1984 -- $72,600 per annum
   * 1985-1986 -- $75,100 per annum
   * 1987 (1/1-2/3) -- $77,400 per annum
   * 1987 (2/4) -- $89,500 per annum
   * 1990 (2/1) -- $98,400 per annum
   * 1991 -- $101,900 per annum
   * 1991 (8/15) -- $125,100 per annum
   * 1992 -- $129,500 per annum
   * 1993 -- $133,600 per annum
   * 1994 -- $133,600 per annum
   * 1995 -- $133,600 per annum
   * 1996 -- $133,600 per annum
   * 1997 -- $133,600 per annum
   * 1998 -- $136,700 per annum
   * 1999 -- $136,700 per annum
   * 2000 -- $141,300 per annum
   * 2001 -- $145,100 per annum
   * 2002 -- $150,000 per annum
   * 2003 -- $154,700 per annum
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