President pro tempore of the United States Senate

Last updated

President pro tempore of the United States Senate
President Pro Tempore US Senate Seal.svg
Seal of the President pro tempore
Leahy2009.jpg
Incumbent
Patrick Leahy

since January 20, 2021
United States Senate
Style
Seat Senate chamber, United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Appointer United States Senate
Term length At the pleasure of the Senate, and until another is elected or their term of office as a Senator expires
Constituting instrument United States Constitution
FormationMarch 4, 1789
First holder John Langdon
Succession Third [1]
DeputyAny senator, typically a member of the majority party, designated by the President pro tempore
Salary US$193,400
Website www.senate.gov

The president pro tempore of the United States Senate (often shortened to president pro tem) is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. Article One, Section Three of the United States Constitution provides that the vice president of the United States is the president of the Senate (despite not being a senator), and mandates that the Senate must choose a president pro tempore to act in the vice president's absence. Unlike the vice president, the president pro tempore is an elected member of the Senate, able to speak or vote on any issue. Selected by the Senate at large, usually by a resolution which is adopted by unanimous consent without a formal vote, the president pro tempore has enjoyed many privileges and some limited powers. [2] During the vice president's absence, the president pro tempore is empowered to preside over Senate sessions. Except when necessary or to highlight important votes, the vice president and the president pro tempore rarely preside; instead, the duty of presiding officer is rotated among junior U.S. senators of the majority party to give them experience in parliamentary procedure. [3]

Contents

Since 1890, the most senior U.S. senator in the majority party has generally been chosen to be president pro tempore and holds the office continuously until the election of another. This tradition has been observed without interruption since 1949. [4] Since the enactment of the current Presidential Succession Act in 1947, the president pro tempore is third in the line of succession to the presidency, after the vice president and the speaker of the House of Representatives and ahead of the secretary of state. [5]

The current president pro tempore of the Senate is Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He was sworn in on January 20, 2021, during the 117th Congress, when the Democratic Party gained control of the Senate. He previously held the position from 2012 to 2015. [6] [7]

Power and responsibilities

Although the position is in some ways analogous to the speaker of the House of Representatives, the powers of the president pro tempore are far more limited. In the Senate, most power rests with party leaders and individual senators, but as the chamber's presiding officer, the president pro tempore is authorized to perform certain duties in the absence of the vice president, including ruling on points of order. [8] Additionally, under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the president pro tempore and the speaker are the two authorities to whom declarations must be transmitted that the president is unable to perform the duties of the office, or is able to resume doing so. The president pro tempore is third in the line of presidential succession, following the vice president and the speaker, [8] and consequently is one of the few members of Congress entitled to a full-time security detail. [9] Additional duties include appointment of various congressional officers, certain commissions, advisory boards, and committees and joint supervision of the congressional page school. [8] The president pro tempore is the designated legal recipient of various reports to the Senate, including War Powers Act reports under which he or she, jointly with the speaker, may have the president call Congress back into session. The officeholder is an ex officio member of various boards and commissions. With the secretary and sergeant at arms, the president pro tempore maintains order in Senate portions of the Capitol and Senate buildings. [8] [10]

History

Position established

The office of president pro tempore was established by the Constitution of the United States in 1789. Between 1792 and 1886, the president pro tempore was second in the line of presidential succession, following the vice president and preceding the speaker. Through 1891, the president pro tempore was appointed on an intermittent basis only, when the vice president was not present to preside over the Senate, or at the adjournment of a session of Congress. [11]

The first president pro tempore, John Langdon, was elected on April 6, 1789, [8] serving four separate terms between 1789 and 1793. "More than twelve senators held the office during the Senate's first decade," [12] presiding over sessions, signing legislation, and performing routine administrative tasks.

Whenever the office of the vice presidency was vacant, as it was on ten occasions between 1812 and 1889, [13] the office garnered heightened importance, for although he did not assume the vice presidency, the president pro tempore stood next in line for the presidency. [14] Before the ratification of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967, a vacancy in the vice presidency could be filled only by a regular election; several individuals who served during these vacancies were referred to informally as "acting vice president." [15]

On three occasions during the 19th century, the Senate was without both a president and a president pro tempore:

When President Andrew Johnson, who had no vice president, was impeached and tried in 1868, Senate President pro tempore Benjamin Franklin Wade was next in line to the presidency. Wade's radicalism is thought by many historians to be a major reason why the Senate, which did not want to see Wade in the White House, acquitted Johnson. [18] The president pro tempore and the speaker of the House were removed from the presidential line of succession in 1886. Both were restored to it in 1947, though this time with the president pro tempore following the speaker. [8]

William P. Frye served as president pro tempore from 1896 to 1911 (the 54th through the 62nd Congress), a tenure longer than anyone else. He resigned from the position due to ill health shortly before his death. Electing his successor proved difficult, as Senate Republicans, then in the majority, were split between progressive and conservative factions, each promoting its own candidate. Likewise, the Democrats proposed their own candidate. As a result of this three-way split, no individual received a majority vote. It took four months for a compromise solution to emerge: Democrat Augustus Bacon served for a single day, August 14, 1911, during the vice president's absence. Thereafter, Bacon and four Republicans—Charles Curtis, Jacob Gallinger, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Frank Brandegee—alternated as president pro tempore for the remainder of the Congress. [8]

Modern era

John Tyler is the only Senate president pro tempore to also become President of the United States. WHOportTyler.jpg
John Tyler is the only Senate president pro tempore to also become President of the United States.

In January 1945, the 79th Congress elected Kenneth McKellar, who at the time was the senator with the longest continuous service, to be president pro tempore. Since then, it has become customary for the majority party's senior member to hold this position. Arthur Vandenberg (from 1947 to 1949) was the last president pro tempore not to be the senior member of the majority party, aside from the single day in December 1980 accorded Milton Young, who was the retiring senior member of the Republican Party, which would hold the majority in the incoming 97th Congress. [4]

Three presidents pro tempore have gone on to be elected to the office of vice president—John Tyler, William R. King, and Charles Curtis—of whom Tyler is the only one to become president, assuming the office in April 1841 upon the death of William Henry Harrison.

Acting president pro tempore

While the president pro tempore does have other official duties, the holders of the office have, like the vice president, over time ceased presiding over the Senate on a daily basis, owing to the mundane and ceremonial nature of the position. [11] Furthermore, as the president pro tempore is now usually the most senior senator of the majority party, he most likely also chairs a major Senate committee and has other significant demands on his time. Therefore, the president pro tempore has less time now than in the past to preside daily over the Senate. Instead, junior senators from the majority party are designated acting president pro tempore to preside over the Senate. [19] [ dead link ] This allows junior senators to learn proper parliamentary procedure. [3] The acting president pro tempore is usually reappointed daily by the president pro tempore. [20]

Permanent acting president pro tempore

In June 1963, because of the illness of president pro tempore Carl Hayden, Senator Lee Metcalf was designated permanent acting president pro tempore. No term was imposed on this designation, so Metcalf retained it until he died in office in 1978. [10]

Deputy president pro tempore

Hubert Humphrey (D-Minnesota) was the first Deputy President pro tempore in 1977-1978 Hubert Humphrey crop.jpg
Hubert Humphrey (D-Minnesota) was the first Deputy President pro tempore in 1977–1978

The ceremonial post of deputy president pro tempore was created for Hubert Humphrey, a former vice president, in 1977 following his losing bid to become the Senate majority leader. [21] The Senate resolution creating the position stated that any former president or former vice president serving in the Senate would be entitled to this position. However, since Humphrey, none have served. [10]

George J. Mitchell was elected deputy president pro tempore in 1987, because of the illness of president pro tempore John C. Stennis, similar to Metcalf's earlier designation as permanent acting president pro tempore. The office has remained vacant since 1989 and no senator other than Humphrey and Mitchell has held it since its creation. [10] Mitchell is the only person to have served as deputy president pro tempore who was neither a former president nor former vice president of the United States.

The post is largely honorary and ceremonial, but comes with a salary increase. By statute, the compensation granted to the position holder equals the rate of annual compensation paid to the president pro tempore, majority leader, and minority leader. [10] [22]

President pro tempore emeritus

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), former president pro tempore, and current president pro tempore emeritus Chuck Grassley official photo 2017.jpg
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), former president pro tempore, and current president pro tempore emeritus

Since 2001, the honorary title of president pro tempore emeritus has been given to a senator of the minority party who has previously served as president pro tempore. The position has been held by Strom Thurmond (R-South Carolina) (2001–2003), Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) (2003–2007), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) (2007–2009), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) (2015–2021), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) (2021–present). From 2009 to 2015, no senator met the requirements for the position.

The position was created for Thurmond when the Democratic Party regained a majority in the Senate in June 2001. [23] With the change in party control, Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia replaced Thurmond as president pro tempore, reclaiming a position he had previously held from 1989 to 1995 and briefly in January 2001. Thurmond's retirement from the Senate on January 3, 2003, coincided with a change from Democratic to Republican control, making Stevens president pro tempore and Byrd the second president pro tempore emeritus. Byrd returned as president pro tempore, and Stevens became the third president pro tempore emeritus, when the Democrats gained control of the Senate in 2007. [10] Although a president pro tempore emeritus has no official duties, he is entitled to an increase in staff, [24] and advises party leaders on the functions of the Senate.

The office's accompanying budget increase was removed toward the end of the 113th Congress, shortly before Patrick Leahy was to become the first holder of the title in six years. [25]

Salary

The salary of the president pro tempore for 2012 was $193,400, equal to that of the majority leaders and minority leaders of both houses of Congress. If there is a vacancy in the office of vice president, then the salary would be the same as that of the vice president. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Vice President of the United States Second highest executive office in the United States government

The vice president of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as the president of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president is empowered to preside over Senate deliberations, but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote. The vice president is indirectly elected together with the president to a four-year term of office by the people of the United States through the Electoral College.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives

The speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. The office was established in 1789 by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the House of Representatives, and is simultaneously the House's presiding officer, de facto leader of the body's majority party, and the institution's administrative head. Speakers also perform various other administrative and procedural functions. Given these several roles and responsibilities, the speaker usually does not personally preside over debates. That duty is instead delegated to members of the House from the majority party. Neither does the speaker regularly participate in floor debates.

Party leaders of the United States Senate Wikimedia list article

The Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader are two United States senators and members of the party leadership of the United States Senate. They serve as the chief Senate spokespersons for their respective political parties holding the majority and the minority in the United States Senate. They also manage and schedule the legislative and executive business of the Senate. They are each elected as Majority Leader and Minority Leader by the Senators of their party caucuses: the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Senate Republican Conference.

The United States Presidential Succession Act is a federal statute establishing the presidential line of succession. Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the United States Constitution authorizes Congress to enact such a statute:

Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution Article of amendment to the United States Constitution, enumerating rules of presidential succession

The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with presidential succession and disability.

United States presidential line of succession Order by which officers of the U.S. federal government fill the vacant office of president of the U.S.

The United States presidential line of succession is the order in which officials of the United States federal government assume the powers and duties of the office of president of the United States if the incumbent president becomes incapacitated, dies, resigns, or is removed from office. The order of succession specifies that the office passes to the vice president; if the vice presidency is simultaneously vacant, or if the vice president is also incapacitated, the powers and duties of the presidency pass to the speaker of the House of Representatives, president pro tempore of the Senate, and then Cabinet secretaries, depending on eligibility.

An acting president of the United States is an individual who legitimately exercises the powers and duties of the president of the United States even though that person does not hold the office in their own right. There is an established presidential line of succession in which officials of the United States federal government may be called upon to take on presidential responsibilities if the incumbent president becomes incapacitated, dies, resigns, is removed from office during their four-year term of office; or if a president-elect has not been chosen before Inauguration Day or has failed to qualify by that date.

President of the Senate is a title often given to the presiding officer of a senate. It corresponds to the speaker in some other assemblies.

Speaker (politics) speaker of a natinal assembly, legislative body

The speaker of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body, is its presiding officer, or the chair. The title was first used in 1377 in England.

107th United States Congress 2001-2003 U.S. Congress

The 107th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from January 3, 2001 to January 3, 2003, during the final weeks of the Clinton presidency and the first two years of the George W. Bush presidency. The apportionment of seats in this House of Representatives was based on the 1990 United States Census. The House of Representatives had a Republican majority, and the Senate switched majorities from Democratic to Republican and back to Democratic. By the end of term, Republicans had regained the majority in the Senate, but since the body was out of session reorganization was delayed till the next Congress.

Secretary of the United States Senate

The secretary of the Senate is an officer of the United States Senate. The secretary supervises an extensive array of offices and services to expedite the day-to-day operations of that body. The office is somewhat analogous to that of the clerk of the United States House of Representatives.

Kenneth McKellar (politician)

Kenneth Douglas McKellar was an American politician from Tennessee who served as a United States Representative from 1911 until 1917 and as a United States Senator from 1917 until 1953. A Democrat, he served longer in both houses of Congress than anyone else in Tennessee history.

The Presiding Officer of the United States Senate is the person who presides over the United States Senate and is charged with maintaining order and decorum, recognizing members to speak, and interpreting the Senate's rules, practices, and precedents. Senate presiding officer is a role, not an actual office. The actual role is usually performed by one of three officials: the Vice President; an elected United States Senator; or, in special cases, the Chief Justice. Outside the constitutionally mandated roles, the actual appointment of a person to do the job of presiding over the Senate as a body is governed by Rule I of the Standing Rules.

Louisiana State Senate

The Louisiana State Senate is the upper house of the state legislature of Louisiana. All senators serve four-year terms and are assigned to multiple committees.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which, along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—constitutes the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

1880 and 1881 United States Senate elections

The United States Senate elections of 1880 and 1881 were elections that coincided with the presidential election of 1880, and had the Democratic Party lose five seats in the United States Senate. The newly elected Readjuster senator caucused with the Republicans, and the Republican Vice President's tie-breaking vote gave the Republicans the slightest majority. All of that changed September 19, 1881 when the Vice President ascended to the Presidency and the Senate became evenly-divided.

President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate

The President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate presides over the Senate of the U.S. state of Vermont in the absence of the Lieutenant Governor. The President pro tempore also sets the policy priorities and legislative agenda for the Senate.

117th United States Congress 2021–2023 meeting of U.S. legislature

The 117th United States Congress is the current meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. It convened in Washington, D.C., on January 3, 2021, during the final weeks of Donald Trump's presidency, and will end on January 3, 2023. It will meet during the first two years of Joe Biden's presidency.

References

  1. "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". LII / Legal Information Institute.
  2. Senate Historical Office; With a preface by Senator Robert C. Byrd, President pro tempore (2008). Erickson, Nancy (Secretary of the Senate) (ed.). Pro Tem: Presidents Pro Tempore of the United States Senate since 1789. U.S. Government Printing Office. p.  9. ISBN   978-0-16-079984-6 . Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  3. 1 2 "Hillary takes Senate gavel–for an hour". CNN. January 24, 2001. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010.
  4. 1 2 Davis, Christopher M. (December 20, 2012). The President Pro Tempore of the Senate: History and Authority of the Office (Report). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  5. Lord, Debbie (June 18, 2018). "A president resigns, dies or is impeached: What is the line of succession?". wftv.com. Cox Media Group. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  6. Norton, Kit (January 20, 2021). "With Biden in the White House, Leahy and Sanders take center stage in U.S. Senate". vtdigger.org . Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  7. "Senate swears in new members and transitions president pro tempore". Dothan Eagle . Dothan, Alabama. Associated Press Georgia Daybook. January 20, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "President Pro Tempore". United States Senate. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  9. Stricherz, Mark (June 16, 2017). "Congressional Security Details Remain Murky". rollcall.com. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sachs, Richard C. (January 22, 2003). "The President Pro Tempore of the Senate: History and Authority of the Office" (PDF). Congressional Research Service Report. Congressional Research Service . Retrieved December 9, 2008.
  11. 1 2 Richard E. Berg-Andersson (June 7, 2001). "A Brief History of Congressional Leadership". The Green Papers. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  12. Erickson, Nancy, ed. (August 22, 2008). "Chapter 1:The Formative Years, 1789–1860" (PDF). Pro tem : presidents pro tempore of the United States Senate since 1789. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing office. pp.  7–10. ISBN   978-0-16-079984-6 . Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  13. Neale, Thomas H. (September 27, 2004). "Presidential and Vice Presidential Succession: Overview and Current Legislation" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress. p. 22. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  14. "John Tyler, Tenth Vice President (1841)". Washington, D.C.: Office of the Secretary, United States Senate. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  15. "Lafayette Foster". Art & History. Washington, D.C.: Secretary of the Senate. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  16. Feerick, John D.; Freund, Paul A. (1965). From Failing Hands: the Story of Presidential Succession. New York City: Fordham University Press. pp. 104–105. LCCN   65-14917.
  17. 1 2 Erickson, Nancy, ed. (August 22, 2008). "Chapter 2: A Question of Succession, 1861-1889" (PDF). Pro tem : presidents pro tempore of the United States Senate since 1789. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing office. pp.  55–57. ISBN   978-0-16-079984-6 . Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  18. Smith, Gene (1977). High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson . William Morrow & Company. ISBN   0-688-03072-6.
  19. Gold, Martin B.; Gupta, Dimple. "The Constitutional Option to Change Senate Rules and Procedures: A Majoritarian Means to Over Come the Filibuster*" (PDF). Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. 28 (1): 211.[ dead link ]
  20. "APPOINTMENT OF A SENATOR TO THE CHAIR - Rules of the Senate - United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration". Archived from the original on December 2, 2016.
  21. "Hubert H. Humphrey". virtualology.com. Evisum Inc. 2000. Retrieved December 24, 2009.
  22. 2 U.S.C.   § 6112 — Compensation of Deputy President pro tempore of Senate
  23. S.Res. 103, adopted, June 6, 2001. "Thanking and Electing Strom Thurmond President pro tempore emeritus."
  24. 2 U.S.C.   § 6115, amended 2003
  25. Lesniewski, Niels (December 10, 2014). "Leahy: 'Kind of Petty' Not to Fund Emeritus Office in 'Cromnibus'". CQ Roll Call . Retrieved January 7, 2015.
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Nancy Pelosi
3rd in lineSucceeded by
Secretary of State
TBD