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The United States Senate is the upper house of the United States Congress.  The House of Representatives is the lower house.  The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article 1 of the Constitution.  Each state has two senators and they are elected directly by the people.  

Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for Senators: 1) each senator must be at least 30 years old, 2) must have been a citizen of the United States for at least the past nine years, and 3) an inhabitant (at the time of election) of the state he or she seeks to represent.

The term of a senate is six years and the terms are staggered so that approximately one-third of the seats are up for election every two years.  The staggering of the terms is arranged to ensure that both seats from a given state are never contested in the same general election except when a mid-term vacancy is being filled.  The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate and he has the authority to preside over senate’s session, however he votes only to break a deadlock.  The Constitution authorizes the senate to elect its own officers and also a President pro tempore to preside in the absence of the Vice-President.   Other elected officers include a chaplain, secretary of the Senate, and sergeant at arms, who are not senators.  The president pro tempore shall be the member of the political party with the largest representation in the house.

The Senate may expel a senator by two- thirds vote.  The chief justice of the United States presides over the impeachment trial of President of the Senate.  If an impeached person is found guilty, she or he can be removed from office and forbidden to hold federal office again.  The Senate cannot impose any other punishment, but the person may also be tried in regular courts.

The Senate publishes journals with regard to its proceedings and it also lists the bills passed, amendments offered, motions made, and votes taken.  President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions.  The senate will consider the nominations when it returns to session.

Powers reserved to the Senate include: 

  • Confirming or rejecting treaties;
  • Confirming or rejecting presidential appointments to office, including the Cabinet, other officials of the executive branch, federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, and ambassadors;
  • Trying a government official who commits a crime against the United States.

Senate uses committees for a variety of purposes, including the review of bills and the oversight of the executive branch.  The appointment of committee members is formally made by the whole Senate, but the choice of members is actually made by the political parties.  Each Senate committee and subcommittee is led by a chairman, usually a member of the majority party. The chamber of the United States Senate is located in the north wing of Capitol building, in Washington, D.C.

Inside Senate