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United States Senate

United States Senate


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The United States Senate, sometimes termed "the world`s most exclusive club," is the smaller but more prestigious of the two houses of the federal Congress. It was established as a counterbalance to the presumed instability of the House of Representatives, whose members are popularly elected every two years.

Terms in the Senate are for six years, compared with two for the House, and the minimum age if 30. Originally, the members of the Senate were appointed by the legislatures of their respective states, but the movement to elect them directly gained support during the Progressive Era and was placed in the Constitution when the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified in 1913.

While legislation that reaches the President for his signature must be passed by both houses, certain other functions are delegated to one or the other. The Senate has the responsibility to ratify treaties and confirm presidential appointments. It has no ability to inaugurate legislation to set taxes, however, which is reserve for the House. The House is authorized to impeach, i.e. charge, federal officials, but the duty to conduct a trial rests with the Senate.

The Vice-President of the United States is the ex-officio President of the Senate. As there is no senator elected in a non-partisan fashion to lead the entire body, the third in succession to the presidency, after the president and vice-president, is instead the Speaker of the House.

In the last century, only two men have been elected to the presidency while sitting senators: John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.


The United States Senate is a failed institution

Let&rsquos briefly take stock of what&rsquos about to happen in the U.S. Senate.

A president who lost the popular vote by 2,864,974 nominated Neil Gorsuch to serve a lifetime appointment on the nation&rsquos highest Court. Although a bloc of senators representing at least 53 percent of the country oppose this nominee, Gorsuch is all but certain to be confirmed &mdash after a bit of a showdown over the Senate&rsquos rules.

Gorsuch&rsquos confirmation will come more than a year after President Obama &mdash a president who won the popular vote, twice &mdash nominated Merrick Garland to the same vacant seat on the Supreme Court. At the time, Democratic senators represented over 53 percent of the nation. Yet Garland was not confirmed because, in the bizarre kind of math that exists in the U.S. Senate, 53 percent support only earned the Democratic caucus 46 percent of the Senate&rsquos seats.

The Constitution of the United States has failed

This is hardly an unusual event in the Senate&rsquos history. The Senate is the product of a compromise that, while it made sense at the time, rested on assumptions that haven&rsquot been true for more than a century. It was an early bulwark for southern slaveholders and a firewall protecting Jim Crow. One of its most defining traits, the filibuster, was invented accidentally by the villain in a popular Broadway musical.

The Senate is a relic, wrapped in a mistake, wrapped in a toxic dose of sanctimony.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is one of the few Democrats who will not vote to filibuster Gorsuch&rsquos nomination. He explained to reporters that he doesn&rsquot want to goad Senate Republicans into eliminating filibusters of Supreme Court nominees, which they are expected to do after Gorsuch is filibustered.

&ldquoPeople who have been here for a long time know that we&rsquore going down the wrong path here,&rdquo Manchin claimed. &ldquoThe most unique political body in the world, the United States Senate, will be no more than a six-year term in the House.&rdquo

Manchin may be right that the Senate is the world&rsquos most unique political body, but it is unique in the same way that Guy&rsquos American Kitchen & Bar is a unique restaurant, or that Nickelback is a unique band. The Senate is the Showgirls of legislative chambers, the Miller Clear Beer of lawmaking bodies. It&rsquos past time someone put it to sleep.

How we got into this mess

&ldquoWe hold these truths to be self-evident,&rdquo Thomas Jefferson famously wrote in the document that set 13 British colonies on the path to independence, &ldquothat all men are created equal.&rdquo Eleven years later, several of the same men who signed this Declaration of Independence joined the delegates to America&rsquos constitutional convention &mdash where they promptly cast aside any pretense that the United States is dedicated to the notion that all people are equal.

The Founding Fathers betrayed the Declaration&rsquos promise with a Constitution that explicitly protected the institution of slavery. But they also betrayed it with the Senate, which treats residents of small states as more worthy of representation than residents of larger states.

In fairness, there&rsquos a good explanation for why delegates from larger states were willing to trade away their right to equal representation in the national legislature. The Articles of Confederation, which proceeded the Constitution, was less a charter for a single nation and more akin to NATO, or perhaps the European Union. As Yale law professor Akhil Amar explains, the Articles were &ldquoan alliance, a multilateral treaty of sovereign nation-states.&rdquo

Under the Articles, Congress could neither tax individuals directly, raise troops, or provide for an army &mdash a matter of great annoyance to General George Washington. The 13 former colonies largely functioned as their own independent nations.

The Senate is a relic, wrapped in a mistake, wrapped in a toxic dose of sanctimony.

Yet, while the United States&rsquo first experiment in unity was more treaty than Union, early American leaders were both well-versed in European history and fearful of the warfare than inevitably results when rival nations share geographic borders. The Constitution was thus an effort to solve two problems at once: to bind the 13 states together in a manner that would keep them from warring with each other, but also to ensure that this Union had real authority over its citizens.

Understood in this context, the Great Compromise that led to the Senate makes sense. Large states like Pennsylvania and New York feared war with their neighboring states more than they feared being outvoted in the Senate. Small states had a stronger claim to equal representation when they were conceived of as independent nations and not simply a collection of individual citizens. And, in any event, the malapportioned Senate would be less dysfunctional that the loose collection of separate nations joined together under the Articles of Confederation.

Yet, whatever the logic of this compromise in 1787, a lot has changed since then. The United States has a coherent national identity. Rhode Island has little to fear from the conquering armies of nearby Massachusetts. Utah is not going to fight a war with Colorado.

And yet the Senate persists, treating each resident of Wyoming as 67 times more worthy than each resident of California, despite the fact that the circumstances that birthed the Senate no longer exist.

The slaveholder&rsquos house

Not long after the Constitution was ratified, slaveholders discovered that they had a problem &mdash most of the nation lived in free states. By the early 1820s, free states controlled 105 of the 187 seats in the House of Representatives &mdash and that&rsquos after you account for the fact that the Three-Fifths Compromise permitted slave states to count 60 percent of their enslaved and disenfranchised population when it came time to allocate seats in the House.

If the House were the only game in town, in other words, it could conceivably have banned the slave trade &mdash or at least taken fairly aggressive steps to hobble the South&rsquos &ldquopeculiar institution.&rdquo

The South&rsquos fears came to a head in 1819, when an obscure New York congressman introduced amendments to legislation admitting Missouri as a state, which would have banned any expansion of slavery within Missouri and required that all new children born into slavery be freed at age 25. Among other things, if Missouri were admitted into the Union on these terms, free states would have gained a majority in the Senate.

The response, as Princeton historian Sean Wilentz writes, was &ldquoblistering.&rdquo Southern lawmakers &ldquovirtually threatened secession were the amendments approved.&rdquo Northerners united behind the amendments in the House, pushing them across the finish line to passage.

Nevertheless, the amendments were ultimately defeated in the Senate, after five northern senators crossed over to vote with a unified South. Missouri was eventually admitted to the Union as a slave state, under the terms enacted through the so-called Missouri Compromise.

The Senate, however, truly came into its own as a savior for Southern racists in the century following the Civil War.

In 1875, Reconstruction was on its last legs. Democrats, then the party most sympathetic to Southern whites, recently regained control of the House of Representatives. When Mississippi Democrats staged a violent uprising to seize control of their state, President Grant did not send troops to intervene. Within just two years, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes would sell out African Americans in the South in order to secure his own election &mdash trading the end of Reconstruction for the presidency.

Yet, even as white supremacists tightened their grip on the old Confederacy, Congress, several senators elected under Reconstruction governments had not yet completed their terms. As racist mobs marched through the state, Mississippi still had two Republican senators in 1875 &mdash one of whom, Sen. Blanche Bruce, was a black man.

1875 was thus the last year until midway through the next century that Congress enacted a civil rights law of any kind. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 prohibited racial discrimination by &ldquoinns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement,&rdquo though this provision was soon struck down by the Supreme Court.

The reason why no new civil rights bill emerged from Congress until 1957 was the Senate. Though five such bills cleared the House in the 12 years following World War II alone, Senate malapportionment gave the southern senators far more influence over the legislative process than their states&rsquo population could justify.

That, combined with another peculiarity of the Senate, was enough to halt civil rights in its tracks.

Talk less, smile more

This is an impolitic time for a liberal news site to discuss the history of the filibuster. A bloc of Democrats comprising a majority of the nation but a minority of the seats in the Senate hope to keep a very conservative judge off the Supreme Court through a filibuster. Republican leaders hope to block this maneuver by eliminating filibusters of Supreme Court nominees. Having endured under the filibuster for so many years, the United States would undoubtedly be better off if the filibuster survives just a little bit longer until the Gorsuch nomination is defeated.

Yet, while the senators hoping to filibuster Gorsuch represent a majority of the nation, this state of affairs is fairly unusual. The filibuster played a major role in Southern senators&rsquo efforts to halt civil rights legislation. It played a similar role in a Republican minority&rsquos efforts to shut down the only agency that can enforce much of federal labor law in 2013, and it was the centerpiece of Republican efforts to sabotage the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before it was even operational. The last time the Senate erupted into a nuclear showdown over the filibuster, a Republican minority tried to prevent President Obama from confirming anyone to a powerful appeals court in Washington, DC.

Far more often than not, in other words, the filibuster thwarts democracy rather than reinforcing it. It cheated African Americans out of their full status as citizens. It threatened to dismantle entire agencies, despite the fact that Congress passed no law permitting this to happen. If the filibuster rules do change this week, Democrats should lament the rise of Neil Gorsuch, but they should not weep to see one of the most anti-democratic aspects of the Senate suffer another cut.

The filibuster&rsquos very existence is an historic accident arising from one of Aaron Burr&rsquos final acts as vice president. As Brookings political scientist Sarah Binder recounts the history, the lame duck vice president returned to the Senate in 1805, fresh off his indictment for killing Alexander Hamilton. There, as the Senate&rsquos presiding officer, he told the senators that their rule book was too complicated and had too many duplicative procedures. One process in particular, the &ldquoprevious question motion,&rdquo Burr deemed especially worthy of removal.

And the Senate believed him. They eliminated this motion the next year.

It turned out, however, that the previous question motion was not superfluous, it was a motion that enabled senators to cut off debate on a subject when a minority wanted to keep that debate going. Thus, by eliminating the motion, Burr effectively enabled dissenters to delay a vote indefinitely by forcing the Senate to &ldquodebate&rdquo it until the majority gave up.

No one actually attempted this until 1837, when &ldquoa minority block of Whig senators prolonged debate to prevent Andrew Jackson&rsquos allies from expunging a resolution of censure against him.&rdquo But filibusters grew increasingly common over most of the following century and in 1917, the Senate amended its rules to permit a two-thirds supermajority to end debate. This threshold was eventually lowered to 60 senators, and later to 51 senators for confirmation votes not involving Supreme Court nominees.

In any event, one of the Senate&rsquos most distinctive features, the filibuster, is not part of some grand vision of minority rights handed down from up on high to the Founding Fathers. It is an accident, created by a lame duck vice president and a body of senators who did not understand what they were doing.

Can it be fixed?

In its inception, the Senate had two anti-democratic features. It is malapportioned, and its members were originally selected by state legislatures, not by the voters themselves. As explained above, it soon developed a third major anti-democratic feature, the filibuster.

The good news, for those of us who believe that the right to govern should flow from the will of the people, is that the Senate has gotten better over time. The Seventeenth Amendment provides for direct election of senators. The filibuster is part-way through a process that is likely to end in its demise.

Nevertheless, curing the Senate&rsquos greatest sin against democracy &mdash the fact that it treats a person from California as 1/67th of a person from Wyoming &mdash will be a much heavier lift.

Although the Constitution provides two processes for amendments, these processes come with two caveats. No amendment could be made prior to 1808 curtailing the slave trade, and &ldquono state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.&rdquo

Theoretically, there are ways around this problem. The United States could ratify two amendments to the Constitution &mdash one permitting amendments to the Senate&rsquos makeup and another actually changing that makeup or abolishing the Senate. Or, alternatively, a single amendment could leave the Senate in place as a malapportioned body, but reduce its authority so that it becomes an advisory body similar to the British House of Lords.

The problem with these solutions, however, is that any amendment requires the consent of three-fourths of the states, and it is unlikely that the states that benefit from malappointment will vote to reduce their own power.

So that leaves one last option, a constitutional revolution. And there is one very significant precedent for such radical change.

Under the Articles of Confederation, amendments were only permitted with the unanimous consent of the states. Nevertheless, a new Constitution was drafted in Philadelphia which, by its own terms, became effective upon &ldquothe ratification of the conventions of nine states.&rdquo The Constitution of the United States is, in this sense, unconstitutional.

We the People could once again invoke a similar process to create a more democratic union &mdash one that is not only free of Senate malapportionment, but also free of other anti-democratic aspects of our present system such as partisan gerrymandering and the Electoral College.

I have no illusions that this will happen any time soon, but it is likely the only way that the United States can become a truly democratic republic &mdash one where everyone&rsquos vote counts equally, regardless of where they live.


Famous Filibusters

Actor James Stewart made the filibuster famous in the 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In the movie, Stewart plays a young senator who talks for nearly 24 hours to delay a vote on a corrupt public works bill.

A real-life senator, South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, topped Stewart’s character’s performance in 1957. Sen. Thurmond armed himself with throat lozenges and malted milk balls and spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes to stall passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. As part of his extended performance, the then 55-year-old senator read the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Criminal Code and the voting laws of 48 states.

According to Nadine Cohodas’s 1993 biography, Strom Thurmond and the Politics of Southern Change, Thurmond prepared by first dehydrating in a steam room, in hopes of avoiding having to use a bathroom for many hours.

After 12 hours, Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois, tried to speed matters along and placed a pitcher of orange juice on Thurmond’s desk, Cohodas writes. Thurmond drank a glass before an aide removed it from his reach.


Here’s Every Black US Senator In American History

Circa 1870, from left: Sen. Hiram Revels of Mississippi with some of the first Black members of Congress, Benjamin Turner, Robert De Large, Josiah Walls, Jefferson Long, Joseph Rainey and Robert Brown Elliot. | Source: MPI / Getty

UPDATED: 5:00 a.m. ET, Jan. 6, 2021 —

C apitol Hill’s most exclusive club got its newest member Wednesday morning after it was determined that Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler in their heated Senate runoff election in Georgia.

It is such an exclusive group that in the entire 231 years that the U.S. Senate has existed, there have only been 11 senators who are Black, now including Warnock. All but four of them were elected and just two of that already small number are women.

Warnock’s historic win that made him Georgia’s first Black Senator meant that the Senate will still have three sitting U.S. Senators who are Black.

That figure could have decreased by one had Warnock lost, since California Sen. Kamala Harris and her running mate Joe Biden won the presidential election to make her the first Black vice president in American history.

There could have been more had California Gov. Gavin Newsom answered calls to fill her Senate seat with another Black woman. Instead, the 2021 Congress will open without a Black woman Senator for the first time in four years, a void that was glaring to critics of Newsom’s decision.

To be sure, the ensuing debate following Newsom’s decision had everything to do with the absence of a Black woman in the U.S. Senate and nothing to do with the fact that Senate-designate and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla would be the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate. It did, however, have to do with the representation of Black people in the U.S. Senate, something that has historically been all but a novelty.

Only in recent years has the election of Black candidates to the U.S. Senate picked up steam.

Circa 1883: Head-and-shoulders portraits of “Distinguished Colored Men” Frederick Douglass, Robert Brown Elliott, U.S. Sen. Blanche K. Bruce, William Wells Brown, Md., Prof. R.T. Greener, Rt. Rev. Richard Allen, J.H. Rainey, E.D. Bassett, John Mercer Langston, P.B.S. Pinchback and Henry Highland Garnet. | Source: Buyenlarge / Getty

It’s been 150 years since the first Black person was elected to the U.S. Senate, with another following four years later in 1874.

But it would be more than 90 years later until the next Black man was elected to the U.S. Senate.

It would be another quarter of a century until the next Black person — the first Black woman — would win a Senate election.

A little more than a decade later, America got its next Black Senator — one who would notably go on to become the first Black person elected president of the United States.

That seemingly opened the relative floodgates to usher in a historic era that would include four more Black U.S. Senators, culminating with two of whom had legitimate runs for the White House.

With the next round of U.S. Senate elections already coming up soon in the 2022 mid-term elections, who will be next to join the exclusive club of Black Senators? The Rev. Raphael Warnock is currently engaged in a heated runoff election in Georgia that would make him the first Black Senator from the Peach State.

Ahead of that election, scroll down to better acquaint yourselves with every Black U.S. Senator in American history, in chronological order.

1. Hiram Rhoades Revels

Source:Getty

Hiram Rhoades Revels (1822-1901), an African American clergyman was the first Black person to be elected to the United States Senate. He was elected in 1870 in Mississippi after Reconstruction but only served two years.

2. Blanche K. Bruce

Source:Getty

Blanche K. Bruce, who was the Accessor and Sheriff of Bolivar County, Mississippi, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1874. He was the first African American to serve a full term in the Senate. He, like Revels, was elected by the state legislature.

“Bruce focused on a number of state and national issues including the construction of levees along the Mississippi River, the development of a more humane and equitable federal Indian policy and the desegregation of the United States Army,” according to the Black Past website. “However one of his most memorable addresses in Congress occurred in March 1876 when he called for a Senate investigation of the racial and political violence that marked the Mississippi gubernatorial election of 1875.”

3. Edward Brooke III

Source:Getty

Former United States Senator from Massachusetts, Edward Brooke III (1919 – 2015) after conceding victory to the challenger, Paul Tsongas, 7th November 1978.

He was elected senator of Massachusetts as a Republican in 1966. He was the first Black senator elected since Reconstruction. He was also the first African American elected to the Senate by popular vote.

4. Carol Moseley Braun

Source:Getty

Carol Moseley Braun, of Illinois, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992 and served a single term. She was the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

Pictured: U.S. Senator-elect Carol Moseley Braun declares her victory on Nov. 3, 1992, in Chicago. She called her campaign a step toward a new diversity in government.

5. Barack Obama

Source:Getty

Barack Obama, of Illinois, was elected to the United States Senate in 2004, making him the fifth Black person to serve in the Senate.

Notably, he would go on to become the first Black president of the United States after serving only a portion of his first and only term in the U.S. Senate.

6. Roland Burris

Source:Getty

In 2009, Senate Democrats grudgingly accepted embattled then- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’ s hand-selected Senate appointee, Roland Burris , as they sought to break an impasse over then- President-elect Barack Obama‘ s former seat.

But the appointment was mired in controversy in a so-called “pay to play” scheme that resulted in an investigation into bribery in exchange for Obama’s former Senate seat.

Burris was never punished, but Blagojevich was impeached, driven from office after he was accused of trying to sell the Senate seat and ultimately convicted and sentenced to prison.

He served in the Senate until late November 2010 when his successor was chosen in a special election.

7. Tim Scott

Source:Getty

Tim Scott in 2013 became the first African American since Reconstruction to represent a southern state in the Senate. The Republican was appointed to the U.S. Senate during his first term as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was officially elected in a special election in 2014 and then re-elected to his current term in 2016.

Scott has emerged as a villain of sorts by consistently siding against the best interests of Black America, including most recently trying to convince voters that Donald Trump is not racist.

Pictured: Sen. Scott at the South Carolina Inland Port groundbreaking ceremony in Greer, S.C., on March 1, 2013.

8. William “Mo” Cowan

Source:Getty

William “Mo” Cowan was named interim U.S. Senator of Massachusetts on Jan. 30, 2013. Then a senior advisor to Gov. Deval Patrick, Cowan filled the position until a successor was named for departing Sen. John Kerry, who was named Secretary of State for Obama’s presidential administration.

Cowan served for less than a year until July 15, 2013.

9. Cory Booker

Source:Getty

Cory Booker became New Jersey’s first Black U.S. Senator after winning a special election in 2013. He was elected to a full term in 2014 and re-elected to another this past November following an unsuccessful presidential campaign.

Pictured: Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Booker delivers remarks about Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during a mark up hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 28, 2018.

10. Kamala Harris

Source:Getty

Kamala Harris became the first Black person — man or woman — to serve as U.S. Senator for the state of California. She was elected in 2016. Her inaugural term was cut short after she was elected the first Black vice president of the United States as Joe Biden’s running mate in 2020.

Pictured: Sen. Harris questions Attorney General William Barr as Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Dirksen Building in Washington, D.C., on May 1, 2019.

11. Rev. Raphael Warnock

Source:Getty

Party Division

Note: Statistics listed below reflect party division immediately following the election, unless otherwise noted. The actual number of senators representing a particular party often changes during a Congress, due to the death or resignation of a senator, or as a consequence of a member changing parties.

1st Congress (1789&ndash1791)

Majority Party: Pro-Administration (18 seats)

Minority Party: Anti-Administration (8 seats)

Note: Organized political parties developed in the U.S. in the 1790s, but political factions&mdashfrom which organized parties evolved&mdashbegan to appear almost immediately after establishment of the federal government. Those who supported the Washington administration were referred to as "pro-administration" and would eventually form the Federalist party, while those in opposition joined the emerging (Jeffersonian) Republican party.

2nd Congress (1791&ndash1793)

Majority Party: Pro-Administration (16 seats)

Minority Party: Anti-Administration (13 seats)

3rd Congress (1793&ndash1795)

Majority Party: Pro-Administration (16 seats)

Minority Party: Anti-Administration (14 seats)

4th Congress (1795&ndash1797)

Majority Party: Federalists (21 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (11 seats)

Note: The Republican Party that emerged in the 1790s is also referred to as the Jeffersonian-Republican Party or the Democratic-Republican Party, and should not be confused with the modern (GOP) Republican Party established in the 1850s.

5th Congress (1797&ndash1799)

Majority Party: Federalists (22 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (10 seats)

6th Congress (1799&ndash1801)

Majority Party: Federalists (22 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (10 seats)

7th Congress (1801&ndash1803)

Majority Party: Republicans (17 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (15 seats)

8th Congress (1803&ndash1805)

Majority Party: Republicans (25 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (9 seats)

9th Congress (1805&ndash1807)

Majority Party: Republicans (27 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (7 seats)

10th Congress (1807&ndash1809)

Majority Party: Republicans (28 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (6 seats)

11th Congress (1809&ndash1811)

Majority Party: Republicans (27 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (7 seats)

12th Congress (1811&ndash1813)

Majority Party: Republicans (30 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (6 seats)

13th Congress (1813&ndash1815)

Majority Party: Republicans (28 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (8 seats)

14th Congress (1815&ndash1817)

Majority Party: Republicans (26 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (12 seats)

15th Congress (1817&ndash1819)

Majority Party: Republicans (30 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (12 seats)

16th Congress (1819&ndash1821)

Majority Party: Republicans (37 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (9 seats)

17th Congress (1821&ndash1823)

Majority Party: Republicans (44 seats)

Minority Party: Federalists (4 seats)

18th Congress (1823&ndash1825)

Majority Party: Jackson & Crawford Republicans (31)

Minority Party: Adams-Clay Republicans & Federalists (17)

19th Congress (1825&ndash1827)

Majority Party: Jacksonians (26 seats)

Minority Party: Adams (22 seats)

20th Congress (1827&ndash1829)

Majority Party: Jacksonians (27 seats)

Minority Party: Adams (21 seats)

21st Congress (1829&ndash1831)

Majority Party: Jacksonians (25 seats)

Minority Party: Anti-Jacksons (23 seats)

22nd Congress (1831&ndash1833)

Majority Party: Jacksonians (24 seats)

Minority Party: Anti-Jacksons (22 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Nullifiers

23rd Congress (1833&ndash1835)

Majority Party: Anti-Jacksons (26 seats)

Minority Party: Jacksonians (20 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Nullifiers

24th Congress (1835&ndash1837)

Majority Party: Jacksonians (26 seats)

Minority Party: Anti-Jacksons (24 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Nullifiers

25th Congress (1837&ndash1839)

Majority Party: Democrats (35 seats)

Minority Party: Whigs (17 seats)

26th Congress (1839&ndash1841)

Majority Party: Democrats (30 seats)

Minority Party: Whigs (22 seats)

27th Congress (1841&ndash1843)

Majority Party: Whigs (29 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (22 seats)

28th Congress (1843&ndash1845)

Majority Party: Whigs (29 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (23 seats)

29th Congress (1845&ndash1847)

Majority Party: Democrats (34 seats)

Minority Party: Whigs (22 seats)

30th Congress (1847&ndash1849)

Majority Party: Democrats (38 seats)

Minority Party: Whigs (21 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent Democrat

31st Congress (1849&ndash1851)

Majority Party: Democrats (35 seats)

Minority Party: Whigs (25 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Free Soilers

32nd Congress (1851&ndash1853)

Majority Party: Democrats (36 seats)

Minority Party: Whigs (23 seats)

Other Parties: 3 Free Soilers

33rd Congress (1853&ndash1855)

Majority Party: Democrats (38 seats)

Minority Party: Whigs (22 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Free Soilers

34th Congress (1855&ndash1857)

Majority Party: Democrats (39 seats)

Minority Party: Oppositions (21 seats)

Other Parties: 1 American (Know Nothing) 1 Republican

35th Congress (1857&ndash1859)

Majority Party: Democrats (41 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (20 seats)

Other Parties: 5 American (Know Nothings)

36th Congress (1859&ndash1861)

Majority Party: Democrats (38 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (26 seats)

Other Parties: 2 American (Know Nothings)

37th Congress (1861&ndash1863)

Majority Party: Republicans (31 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (15 seats)

Other Parties: 3 Unionists

Note: The decrease in total number of seats is due to secession of Confederate states. As members left the Senate to join the Confederacy, or were expelled for supporting the rebellion, seats were declared vacant. To establish a quorum with fewer members, a lower total seat number was taken into account.

38th Congress (1863&ndash1865)

Majority Party: Republicans (33 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (10 seats)

Other Parties: 5 Unconditional Unionists 4 Unionists

Note: The decrease in total number of seats is due to secession of Confederate states. As members left the Senate to join the Confederacy, or were expelled for supporting the rebellion, seats were declared vacant. To establish a quorum with fewer members, a lower total seat number was taken into account.

39th Congress (1865&ndash1867)

Majority Party: Republicans (39 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (11 seats)

Other Parties: 3 Unconditional Unionists 1 Unionist

Note: The decrease in total number of seats is due to secession of Confederate states. As members left the Senate to join the Confederacy, or were expelled for supporting the rebellion, seats were declared vacant. To establish a quorum with fewer members, a lower total seat number was taken into account.

40th Congress (1867&ndash1869)

Majority Party: Republicans (57 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (9 seats)

41st Congress (1869-&ndash1871)

Majority Party: Republicans (62 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (12 seats)

42nd Congress (1871&ndash1873)

Majority Party: Republicans (56 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (17 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Liberal Republican

43rd Congress (1873&ndash1875)

Majority Party: Republicans (47 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (19 seats)

Other Parties: 7 Liberal Republicans

44th Congress (1875&ndash1877)

Majority Party: Republicans (46 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (28 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent Republican

45th Congress (1877&ndash1879)

Majority Party: Republicans (40 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (35 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent

46th Congress (1879&ndash1881)

Majority Party: Democrats (42 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (33 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent

47th Congress (1881&ndash1883)

Majority Party: Republicans (37 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (37 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent 1 Readjuster

48th Congress (1883&ndash1885)

Majority Party: Republicans (38 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (36 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Readjusters

49th Congress (1885&ndash1887)

Majority Party: Republicans (42 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (34 seats)

50th Congress (1887&ndash1889)

Majority Party: Republicans (39 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (37 seats)

51st Congress (1889&ndash1891)

Majority Party: Republicans (51 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (37 seats)

52nd Congress (1891&ndash1893)

Majority Party: Republicans (47 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (39 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Populists

53rd Congress (1893&ndash1895)

Majority Party: Democrats (44 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (40 seats)

Other Parties: 3 Populists 1 Silver

54th Congress (1895&ndash1897)

Majority Party: Republicans (44 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (40 seats)

Other Parties: 4 Populists 2 Silvers

55th Congress (1897&ndash1899)

Majority Party: Republicans (44 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (34 seats)

Other Parties: 5 Populists 5 Silver Republicans 2 Silvers

56th Congress (1899&ndash1901)

Majority Party: Republicans (53 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (26 seats)

Other Parties: 5 Populists 3 Silver Republicans 2 Silvers

57th Congress (1901&ndash1903)

Majority Party: Republicans (56 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (32 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Populists

58th Congress (1903&ndash1905)

Majority Party: Republicans (57 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (33 seats)

59th Congress (1905&ndash1907)

Majority Party: Republicans (58 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (32 seats)

60th Congress (1907&ndash1909)

Majority Party: Republicans (61 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (31 seats)

61st Congress (1909&ndash1911)

Majority Party: Republicans (60 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (32 seats)

62nd Congress (1911&ndash1913)

Majority Party: Republicans (52 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (44 seats)

63rd Congress (1913&ndash1915)

Majority Party: Democrats (51 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (44 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Progressive

64th Congress (1915&ndash1917)

Majority Party: Democrats (56 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (40 seats)

65th Congress (1917&ndash1919)

Majority Party: Democrats (54 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (42 seats)

66th Congress (1919&ndash1921)

Majority Party: Republicans (49 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (47 seats)

67th Congress (1921&ndash1923)

Majority Party: Republicans (59 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (37 seats)

68th Congress (1923&ndash1925)

Majority Party: Republicans (53 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (42 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Farmer-Labor

69th Congress (1925&ndash1927)

Majority Party: Republicans (54 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (41 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Farmer-Labor

70th Congress (1927&ndash1929)

Majority Party: Republicans (48 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (46 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Farmer-Labor

71st Congress (1929&ndash1931)

Majority Party: Republicans (56 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (39 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Farmer-Labor

72nd Congress (1931&ndash1933)

Majority Party: Republicans (48 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (47 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Farmer-Labor

73rd Congress (1933&ndash1935)

Majority Party: Democrats (59 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (36 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Farmer-Labor

74th Congress (1935&ndash1937)

Majority Party: Democrats (69 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (25 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Farmer-Labor 1 Progressive

75th Congress (1937&ndash1939)

Majority Party: Democrats (76 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (16 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Farmer-Labors 1 Progressive 1 Independent

76th Congress (1939&ndash1941)

Majority Party: Democrats (69 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (23 seats)

Other Parties: 2 Farmer-Labors 1 Progressive 1 Independent

77th Congress (1941&ndash1943)

Majority Party: Democrats (66 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (28 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent 1 Progressive

78th Congress (1943&ndash1945)

Majority Party: Democrats (57 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (38 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Progressive

79th Congress (1945&ndash1947)

Majority Party: Democrats (57 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (38 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Progressive

80th Congress (1947&ndash1949)

Majority Party: Republicans (51 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (45 seats)

81st Congress (1949&ndash1951)

Majority Party: Democrats (54 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (42 seats)

82nd Congress (1951&ndash1953)

Majority Party: Democrats (49 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (47 seats)

83rd Congress (1953&ndash1955)

Majority Party: Republicans (48 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (47 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent

84th Congress (1955&ndash1957)

Majority Party: Democrats (48 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (47 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent

Note: Strom Thurmond (SC) was an Independent Democrat during this Congress until his resignation on April 4, 1956. In November of that year he was elected as a Democrat to fill the vacancy created by his resignation. The Independent member listed above was Wayne Morse (OR), who changed from an Independent to a Democrat on February 17, 1955.

85th Congress (1957&ndash1959)

Majority Party: Democrats (49 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (47 seats)

86th Congress (1959&ndash1961)

Majority Party: Democrats (65 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (35 seats)

87th Congress (1961&ndash1963)

Majority Party: Democrats (64 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (36 seats)

88th Congress (1963&ndash1965)

Majority Party: Democrats (66 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (34 seats)

89th Congress (1965&ndash1967)

Majority Party: Democrats (68 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (32 seats)

90th Congress (1967&ndash1969)

Majority Party: Democrats (64 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (36 seats)

91st Congress (1969&ndash1971)

Majority Party: Democrats (57 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (43 seats)

92nd Congress (1971&ndash1973)

Majority Party: Democrats (54 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (44 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Conservative (caucused with the Republicans) 1 Independent (caucused with the Democrats)

93rd Congress (1973&ndash1975)

Majority Party: Democrats (56 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (42 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Conservative (caucused with the Republicans) 1 Independent (caucused with the Democrats)

94th Congress (1975&ndash1977)

Majority Party: Democrats (61 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (37 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Conservative (caucused with the Republicans) 1 Independent (caucused with the Democrats)

Note: Results of the New Hampshire election were contested and the seat remained vacant until August 8, 1975, when Norris Cotton (R) was appointed to fill the seat until a special election could be held. John Durkin (D) won that special election and was sworn in on September 18, 1975. The statistics noted here reflect the Senate&rsquos party division following Durkin&rsquos election.

95th Congress (1977&ndash1979)

Majority Party: Democrats (61 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (38 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent (caucused with the Democrats)

96th Congress (1979&ndash1981)

Majority Party: Democrats (58 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (41 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent (caucused with the Democrats)

97th Congress (1981&ndash1983)

Majority Party: Republicans (53 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (46 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent (caucused with the Democrats)

98th Congress (1983&ndash1985)

Majority Party: Republicans (55 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (45 seats)

99th Congress (1985&ndash1987)

Majority Party: Republicans (53 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (47 seats)

100th Congress (1987&ndash1989)

Majority Party: Democrats (55 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (45 seats)

101st Congress (1989&ndash1991)

Majority Party: Democrats (55 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (45 seats)

102nd Congress (1991&ndash1993)

Majority Party: Democrats (56 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (44 seats)

103rd Congress (1993&ndash1995)

Majority Party: Democrats (57 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (43 seats)

Note: Party division changed to 56 Democrats and 44 Republicans after the June 5, 1993 election of Kay B. Hutchison (R-TX).

104th Congress (1995&ndash1997)

Majority Party: Republicans (52 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (48 seats)

Note: Party ratio changed to 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats after Richard Shelby of Alabama switched from the Democratic to Republican Party on November 9, 1994. It changed again, to 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats, when Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado switched from the Democratic to Republican Party on March 3, 1995. When Robert Packwood (R-OR) resigned on October 1, 1995, the Senate divided between 53 Republicans and 46 Democrats with one vacancy. Ron Wyden (D) returned the ratio to 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats when he was elected to fill the vacant Oregon seat.

105th Congress (1997&ndash1999)

Majority Party: Republicans (55 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (45 seats)

106th Congress (1999&ndash2001)

Majority Party: Republicans (55 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (45 seats)

Note: As the 106th Congress began, the division was 55 Republican seats and 45 Democratic seats, but this changed to 54-45-1 on July 13, 1999, when Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire switched from the Republican Party to Independent status. On November 1, 1999, Smith announced his return to the Republican Party, making the division once more 55 Republicans and 45 Democrats. Following the death of Senator Paul Coverdell (R-GA) on July 18, 2000, the balance shifted again, to 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats, when the governor appointed Zell Miller, a Democrat, to fill the vacancy.

107th Congress (2001&ndash2003)

Majority Party (Jan 3&ndash20, 2001): Democrats (50 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (50 seats)

Majority Party (Jan 20&ndashJune 6, 2001): Republicans (50 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (50 seats)

Majority Party (June 6, 2001&ndashNovember 12, 2002): Democrats (50 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (49 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent (caucused with the Democrats)

Majority Party (November 12, 2002&ndashJanuary 3, 2003): Republicans (50 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (48 seats)

Note: From January 3 to January 20, 2001, with the Senate divided evenly between the two parties, the Democrats held the majority due to the deciding vote of outgoing Democratic Vice President Al Gore. Senator Thomas A. Daschle served as majority leader at that time. Beginning on January 20, 2001, Republican Vice President Richard Cheney held the deciding vote, giving the majority to the Republicans. Senator Trent Lott resumed his position as majority leader on that date. On May 24, 2001, Senator James Jeffords of Vermont announced his switch from Republican to Independent status, effective June 6, 2001. Jeffords announced that he would caucus with the Democrats, giving the Democrats a one-seat advantage, changing control of the Senate from the Republicans back to the Democrats. Senator Thomas A. Daschle again became majority leader on June 6, 2001. Senator Paul D. Wellstone (D-MN) died on October 25, 2002, and Independent Dean Barkley was appointed to fill the vacancy. The November 5, 2002 election brought to office elected Senator James Talent (R-MO), replacing appointed Senator Jean Carnahan (D-MO), shifting balance once again to the Republicans&mdashbut no reorganization was completed at that time since the Senate was out of session.

108th Congress (2003&ndash2005)

Majority Party: Republicans (51 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (48 seats)

Other Parties: Independent (1 seat) (caucused with the Democrats)

109th Congress (2005&ndash2007)

Majority Party: Republicans (55 seats)

Minority Party: Democrats (44 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent (caucused with the Democrats)

110th Congress (2007&ndash2009)

Majority Party: Democrats (49 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (49 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent 1 Independent Democrat (both caucused with the Democrats)

Note: Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut was reelected in 2006 as an independent candidate and became an Independent Democrat. Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont was elected as an Independent.

111th Congress (2009&ndash2011)

Majority Party: Democrats (57 seats)

Minority Party: Republicans (41 seats)

Other Parties: 1 Independent 1 Independent Democrat (both caucused with the Democrats)

Note: Senator Arlen Specter was reelected in 2004 as a Republican, and became a Democrat on April 30, 2009. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut was reelected in 2006 as an independent candidate, and became an Independent Democrat. Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont was elected in 2006 as an Independent.

112th Congress (2011&ndash2013)
Majority Party: Democrats (51 seats)
Minority Party: Republicans (47 seats)
Other Parties: 1 Independent 1 Independent Democrat (both caucused with the Democrats)
Total Seats: 100

113th Congress (2013&ndash2015)
Majority Party: Democrats (53 seats)
Minority Party: Republicans (45 seats)
Other Parties: 2 Independents (both caucused with the Democrats)
Total Seats: 100
Note: Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died on June 3, 2013. He was replaced by Jeffrey Chiesa (R-NJ) on June 6, 2013, making the party division 52 Democrats, 46 Republicans, and 2 Independents (who both caucused with the Democrats). On October 31, 2013, Cory Booker (D-NJ) replaced Chiesa, returning the party division to 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and 2 Independents (who both caucused with the Democrats).

114th Congress (2015&ndash2017)
Majority Party: Republicans (54 seats)
Minority Party: Democrats (44 seats)
Other Parties: 2 Independents (both caucused with the Democrats)
Total Seats: 100

115th Congress (2017&ndash2019)
Majority Party: Republicans (51 seats)
Minority Party: Democrats (47 seats)
Other Parties: 2 Independents (both caucused with the Democrats)
Total Seats: 100
Note: At the beginning of 115th Congress, there were 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) resigned on February 8, 2017, and was replaced by Luther Strange (R-AL). Doug Jones (D-AL) subsequently won the special election held on December 12, 2017, to replace Sessions and was sworn into office on January 3, 2018.

116th Congress (2019&ndash2021)
Majority Party: Republicans (53 seats)
Minority Party: Democrats (45 seats)
Other Parties: 2 Independents (both caucus with the Democrats)
Total Seats: 100

117th Congress (2021&ndash2023)
Majority Party: Democrats (48 seats)
Minority Party: Republicans (50 seats)
Other Parties: 2 Independents (both caucus with the Democrats)
Total Seats: 100

Note: From January 3, 2021, to January 20, 2021, party division stood at 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats, 2 Independents (who caucused with the Democrats), and 1 vacancy. Both Senate seats in Georgia were up for election in 2020&mdashthe Class 2 seat held by Senator David Perdue, and the Class 3 seat held by appointed senator Kelly Loeffler (special election). No candidate in either race won a majority (50%+) as required by Georgia State law, forcing run-off elections for both seats held on January 5, 2021. Senator Perdue's term expired on January 3, 2021, resulting in a vacancy until the winner of the run-off election was sworn in. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated Perdue and Loeffler, respectively, in the run-off elections and were sworn in on January 20, bringing the party division to 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and 2 Independents (who caucus with the Democrats). Democrats hold the majority due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.


A need for cloture

One of the earliest coordinated attempts to block legislation occurred in 1837, when allies of Democratic President Andrew Jackson sought to expunge the Senate’s earlier censure of him. Members of the opposing Whig party mounted a filibuster to prevent the expungement, yet were unsuccessful.

By the 1850s, the practice became popular enough to earn its name, which was inspired by the mercenary sailors called “filibusters” who attempted to overthrow governments in South and Central America. In the decades that followed, senators on both sides of the aisle filibustered bills concerning economic issues as well as slavery and civil rights.

The frequency of filibusters was starting to become a problem. Things came to a head on March 3, 1917, when the Senate was considering arming merchant ships to protect them from German attacks during World War I. Fearing the bill would lead the U.S. into the war, Republican Senator Robert La Follette launched a filibuster with only 26 hours to go until the Senate’s term ended.

Fed up with the Senate’s successful filibuster, President Woodrow Wilson demanded that the body adopt a rule to prevent “[a] little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own” from hijacking future legislation. After intense negotiations, on March 8 the Senate adopted a “cloture” rule that would allow a two-thirds majority of lawmakers to cut off debate.

It was a high bar, however. The Senate would successfully invoke cloture only five times in the next 46 years—including in 1919 to defeat the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles, which Wilson had negotiated to end World War I. (This rebel lawmaker often breaks into song while filibustering in Nebraska.)


Committee History & Rules

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was established in 1816 as one of the original ten standing committees of the Senate. Throughout its history, the committee has been instrumental in developing and influencing United States foreign policy, at different times supporting and opposing the policies of presidents and secretaries of state. The committee has considered, debated, and reported important treaties and legislation, ranging from the purchase of Alaska in 1867 to the establishment of the United Nations in 1945. It also holds jurisdiction over all diplomatic nominations. Through these powers, the committee has helped shape foreign policy of broad significance, in matters of war and peace and international relations. Members of the committee have assisted in the negotiation of treaties, and at times have helped to defeat treaties they felt were not in the national interest.

The Foreign Relations Committee was instrumental in the rejection of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and 1920, and in the passage of the Truman Doctrine in 1947 and Marshall Plan in 1948. A bipartisan spirit prevailed as the committee confronted the perils of the Cold War. However, the state of almost constant crisis that the Cold War spawned eventually resulted in the vast expansion of presidential authority over foreign policy. Since the 1960s, the committee has sought to redress this imbalance of powers.

Download

Collected Volumes of Legislation on Foreign Relations

Legislation on Foreign Relations is a multi-volume, fully annotated compendium of legislation, Executive Orders, and treaties pertaining to U.S. foreign relations. Until 2005, it was generally prepared annually by the Congressional Research Service for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and House Committee on Foreign Affairs. It is used widely throughout all branches of federal government as the authoritative source for session law, related legislative history, and corresponding executive documents.

Download

History of the Committee Room

During the nineteenth century, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met in a variety of rooms in the United States Capitol. Following World War I, these accommodate the committeeâ&euro&trades expanding responsibilities. In 1933 the committee moved into its current suite in the Capitol. While the Foreign Relations Committee maintains several offices spread over four buildings, the two rooms in the Capitol have become symbolic of the committee and its work.

These rooms, S-116 and S-117, were first occupied around 1859 with the completion of the new Senate wing of the Capitol. Until their assignment to the Foreign Relations Committee, the rooms housed a variety of tenants. Former occupants, whose names are reflective of the concerns of a growing nation, included the committees on Retrenchment, Patents, Agriculture, Immigration, Territories, Female Suffrage, and Naval Affairs. At the turn of the century, S-116 even served as the Senateâ&euro&trades post office.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee uses these rooms to receive visiting dignitaries and to conduct national security briefings and hearings in executive session. The rooms have hosted American presidents, heads of foreign nations, secretaries of state and defense, ambassadors, and others who have informed and advised the committee in its fulfillment of the Senateâ&euro&trades constitutional role in foreign policy.


Senate Oral History Program

Since 1976, the Senate Historical Office has collected a series of oral history interviews with former senators and retired members of the Senate staff. The interviews have been both geographical and institutional, including individuals' personal recollections of their careers with the Senate, and discussions of how Congress changed during their tenures. The Historical Office uses information gained through these oral histories for its own reference work, and also makes it available to researchers by depositing copies in the Senate Library, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and a microfiche edition distributed by Scholarly Resources, Inc.

The project has focused more on staff members rather than senators because the latter generally give oral history interviews to universities and historical societies in their home states. The Senate Historical Office encourages such private projects, and keeps a record of all resulting transcripts. For its own project, the Historical Office generally concentrates on staff whose service spanned more than two decades, and whose experience has included work on committee staffs as well as with individual senators.

Faced with a large pool of prospective interviewees, the Historical Office chose to interview a few representative individuals in depth, rather than to produce a great quantity of short interviews. The typical oral history in this series consists of six to eight interview sessions, each session about an hour and a half in length. Transcripts were produced immediately following each session for the interviewees to review. Interviewees were encouraged to speak fully and candidly, and their transcripts remain closed until specifically opened for research under the terms of a deed of gift. Once opened the interviews become part of the public domain and may be reproduced and cited without additional permission.

In 1998 the Senate Historical Office began putting their interviews on their website. Links to these interviews are provided here, and they are identified as such.

About the Interviewer: Donald A. Ritchie

Donald A. Ritchie is associate historian of the Senate Historical Office. A graduate of C.C.N.Y., he received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland. He has published articles on American political history and oral history, including "Oral History in the Federal Government," which appeared in the Journal of American History. His books include:

  • James M. Landis: Dean of the Regulators (Harvard University Press, 1980)
  • Heritage of Freedom: History of the United States (Macmillan, 1985)
  • The Senate (Chelsea House, 1988)
  • Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington Correspondents (Harvard University Press, 1991)

He also edits the Executive Sessions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Historical Series) (Government Printing Office, 1978--). A former president of the Oral History Association and Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR), he received OHMAR's Forrest C. Pogue Award for distinguished contributions to the field of oral history.

Pagination Indicators

The transcripts of the oral histories of the Senate Historical Office have been available to researchers in paper at:

  • the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress
  • the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives and Records Administration
  • the various presidential libraries
  • the Senate Library
  • other institutions the Senate Historical Office has deemed appropriate since 1976

In addition, microfiche copies of the interviews have been published through Scholarly Resources, Inc., of Wilmington, DE.

Because these transcripts have been widely used and cited in this form, their original pagination is indicated by these page indicators in the online edition. When citing these transcripts, these pages should be used.

Attig, Francis J. Senate Reporter of Debates, 1952-1974 (1978).

Ballard, Leonard. Inspector, U.S. Capitol Police, 1947-1984 (1984).

Caldwell, Charles Sargent. Staff Assistant to Senator Ralph Yarborough, 1957-1970 (1996).

Detwiler, Donald J. Senate Page, 1917-1918 (1985).

Elson, Roy L. Administrative Assistant to Senator Carl Hayden and candidate for the U.S. Senate, 1952-1969 (1990).

Ensley, Grover W. Executive Director, Joint Economic Committee, 1949-1957 (1986).

Hallen, Brian. Senate Enrolling Clerk, 1986-1995 (1996).

Hildenbrand, William F. Secretary of the Senate, 1961-1981 (1985). U.S. Senate website

Hoffmann, F. Nordy. Sergeant at Arms, 1947-1981 (1988).

Holt, Pat M. Chief of Staff, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1950-1973 (1980).

Little, J. Franklin. Senate Page, 1910-1912 (19xx).

Marcy, Carl M. Chief of Staff, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1950-1973 (1983).

McClure, Stewart E. Chief Clerk, Senate Committee on Labor, Education, and Public Welfare, 1949-1973 (1983).

McGhee, Roy L. Superintendent of the Senate Periodical Press Gallery, 1973-1991 (1992).

Nichols, Jesse R. Government Documents Clerk and Librarian, Senate Committee on Finance, 1937-1971 (1994). U.S. Senate website

Peek, Scott I. Administrative Assistant to Senator George A. Smathers, 1952-1963 (1992).

Reid, Warren Featherstone. Chief Aide to Senator Warren Magnuson, 1964-1981 (1981).

Riddick, Floyd M. Senate Parliamentarian, 1947-1974 (1979).

Ridgely, William. Senate Financial Clerk, 1949-1981 (1982).

Scott, Dorothye G. Administrative Assistant to the Senate Democratic Secretary and to the Secretary of the Senate, 1945-1977 (19xx).

Shuman, Howard E. Administrative Assistant to Senators Paul Douglas and William Proxmire, 1955-1983 (1987). U.S. Senate website

Smathers, George A. U. S. Senator from Florida, 1961-1969 (1989). U.S. Senate website

St. Claire, Darrell. Assistant Secretary of the Senate, 1933-1977 (1978).

Tames, George. Washington Photographer for the New York Times, 1945-1985 (1988).

Valeo, Francis R. Secretary of the Senate, 1966-1977 (1986).

Vander Zee, Rein J. Administrative Assistant to the Majority Whip and Assistant Secretary of the Majority, 1961-1964 (1992).

Verkler, Jerry T. Staff Director of the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, 1963-1974 (1992).

Watt, Ruth Young. Chief Clerk, Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, 1947-1979 (1979).

Wilcox, Francis O. Chief of Staff, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1947-1955 (1984).

This page was last reviewed on June 26, 2019.
Contact us with questions or comments.


Records of the United States Senate

Established: By Article I, Section 1, of the Constitution, approved September 17, 1787. First met, March 4, 1789. Functions: Exercises federal legislative authority jointly with the United States House of Representatives. Tries impeachments. Approves or disapproves Presidential appointments. Provides advice and consent in negotiations of treaties.

Finding Aids: Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1999: On-Line Edition. Robert W. Coren, Mary Rephlo, David Kepley, and Charles South, comps., Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (1989). Harold E. Hufford and Watson G. Caudill, comps., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the United States Senate, PI 23 (1950) supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories. Charles E. South and James C. Brown, comps., Hearings in the Records of the U.S. Senate and Joint Committees of Congress, SL 72 (1972).

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Specific Restrictions: As specified by Senate Resolution 474 (Congressional Record, 96th Cong., 2d sess., 1980, 126, pt. 23:31188), records under the jurisdiction of the Senate (a) prohibited from disclosure by executive order or statute are unavailable for public use in accordance with the applicable executive order or statute (b) the disclosure of which, in the opinion of the Secretary of the Senate, would not be in the public interest are unavailable for public inspection (c) relating to the investigation of individuals and containing personal data, personnel records, and records of executive nominations, and not previously made public, are unavailable for public inspection for 50 years after creation and (d) not otherwise previously made public are unavailable for public inspection for 20 years after creation, except that any committee may, by action of the full committee, prescribe a different time when any of its records under (c) and (d) may be made available for public use.

Related Records:

  • Record copies of publications of the various committees of the United States Senate in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
  • Records of Joint Committees of Congress, RG 128.
  • Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, RG 233.
  • Textual, photographic, and cartographic materials concerning the U.S. Capitol building, grounds, and related buildings, are in the custody of the Architect of the Capitol. Approximately 30,000 photographs relating to the Senate are in the custody of the Senate Historical Office.
RECORD TYPES RECORD LOCATIONS QUANTITIES
Textual Records National Archives Building 22,688 cu. ft.
Maps and Charts College Park 1,305 items
Motion Pictures College Park 4 reels
Video Recordings College Park 5,200 items
Sound Recordings College Park 471 items
Machine-Readable College Park 12 data sets
Records

Note: Dates cited below are those of the records. Congresses reflect approximate corresponding Congressional sessions. Records of other subcommittees and investigations may be interfiled with the records of the full committees.

46.2 GENERAL RECORDS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE
1789-1988
6,812 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Journals of legislative proceedings and minute books, 1789-1988. Bills and resolutions, 1789-1988. Presidential messages, 1789-1875. Manuscripts and typescripts of Senate documents, 1875-1988. Committee reports, 1847-1988. Records relating to private bills, 1887-1901. Records accompanying bills and resolutions ("Legislative Case Files"), 1901-46 (1,048 ft.). Petitions and memorials, 1815-1966. Original electoral votes and certificates of ascertainment, 1789-1969. Credentials of individual senators, 1789-1988. Records of the Secretary of the Senate, including campaign spending reports, 1912-46 roll call tally sheets, 1947-88 and lobbying reports, 1949-88. Records relating to executive proceedings, including nomination messages and related papers, 1789-1988 records relating to treaties, 1789-1988 and records concerning impeachments, 1797-1987. Legislative bulletins, reports, voting records, and other records of the Democratic Policy Committee, 1977-88.

Microfilm Publications: M200, M1251-M1261.

Finding Aids: George P. Perros, James C. Brown, and Jacqueline A. Wood, comps., Papers of the United States Senate relating to Presidential Nominations, 1789-1901, SL 20 (1964).

46.3 RECORDS OF COMMITTEES RELATING TO AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY
1825-1988
535 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Correspondence, reports, hearings, transcripts, petitions and memorials, resolutions, minutes, dockets, legislative and investigative case files, nomination files, Presidential messages and communications, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Agriculture 1 ft. 1825-83 19th-47th
On Agriculture and Forestry 258 ft. 1883-1976 48th-94th
On Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 240 ft. 1977-88 95th-100th
On Forest Reservations and the Protection of Game 1 ft. 1896-1921 54th-66th
Subcommittee (Agriculture and Forestry) Volume Dates Congresses
To Investigate the Use of Farm Crops 4 ft. 1943 78th
To Investigate the Rural Electrification Administration 7 ft. 1943 78th
To Investigate Food Production, Distribution, and Consumption 7 ft. 1943 78th
To Investigate the Utilization of Farm Crops 13 ft. 1949 81st
To Investigate the Importation of Feed Wheat 4 ft. 1953-57 83d-85th
To Investigate Grain Storage and Other Activities of the Department of Agriculture 3 ft. 1959-60 86th
On Watershed Projects 1 ft. 1961-62 87th

46.4 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
1867-1988
460 lin. ft.

History: Established March 6, 1867. Appropriations bills referred to select committees, 1789-1817 (1st-14th Congresses) and to Senate Finance Committee, 1817-67 (15th-39th Congresses SEE 46.11).

Textual Records: Committee papers, petitions, memorials, resolutions, legislative case files ("Accompanying Papers"), Presidential messages and communications, subject files, and other records of the committee and its subcommittees as follows:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Appropriations 242 ft. 1867-1988 40th-100th
Subcommittee Volume Dates Congresses
On Inquiry In Re Transfer of Employees 25 ft. 1942 77th
On Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies 27 ft. 1977-88 95th-100th
On Commerce, Justice, and State 77 ft. 1977-88 95th-100th
On Foreign Operations 22 ft. 1977-88 95th-100th
On Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies 10 ft. 1973-88 93d-100th
On Intelligence Operations 2 ft. 1973-74 93d
On Interior 13 ft. 1977-88 95th-100th
On Labor-Health and Human Service-Education 7 ft. 1979-80 96th
On Legislative Branch 11 ft. 1959-88 86th-100th
On Transportation and Related Agencies 12 ft. 1979-88 96th-100th
On Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government 14 ft. 1981-88 97th-100th

Finding Aids: Theodore J. Cassady and Harold E. Hufford, comps., Preliminary Inventory of the Senate Committee on Appropriations: Subcommittee on Inquiry In Re Transfer of Employees, PI 12 (1942).

Subject Access Terms: American Relief Administration Emergency Relief Appropriation Acts.

46.5 RECORDS OF COMMITTEES RELATING TO DEFENSE
1816-1988
1,117 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Correspondence, reports, hearings, transcripts, claims, petitions and memorials, resolutions, minutes, dockets, legislative and investigative case files, nomination files, and Presidential messages and communications, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Military Affairs 125 ft. 1816-1946 14th-79th
On the Militia 3 in. 1816-57 14th-35th
On Naval Affairs 54 ft. 1816-1946 14th-79th
On Coast Defenses 5 in. 1885-1911 49th-62d
On Armed Services 899 ft. 1947-88 80th-100th
Subcommittee (Military Affairs) Volume Dates Congresses
Investigating the Disposal of Surplus Property 6 ft. 1945-46 79th
Subcommittee (Armed Services) Volume Dates Congresses
Investigation of the Malmedy Massacre 5 ft. 1949 81st
Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee 3 ft. 1950-55 81st-84th
On National Stockpile and Naval Petroleum 29 ft. 1962-63 87th-88th

Finding Aids: George P. Perros and Toussaint L. Prince, comps., Records of Certain Committees of the Senate Investigating the Disposal of Surplus Property, 1945-48, PI 59 (1953).

Subject Access Terms: Civil defense National Guard National Stockpile, Subcommittee on (Armed Services) Real Estate and Military Construction, Subcommittee on (Armed Services) universal military training U.S. Exploring Expedition war crimes.

46.6 RECORDS OF COMMITTEES RELATING TO BANKING AND CURRENCY
1913-88
977 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, petitions, memorials, minutes, correspondence, investigators' reports, legislative case files ("Accompanying Papers"), bills and resolutions, transcripts of public hearings and executive sessions, Presidential messages and communications, nomination files, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Banking and Currency 496 ft. 1913-70 63d-91st
On Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs 330 ft. 1970-88 91st-100th
Subcommittee (Banking and Currency) Volume Dates Congresses
On Housing (and Urban Affairs) 46 ft. 1957-68 85th-90th
On Small Business 6 ft. 1949-68 81st-90th
On Financial Institutions 12 ft. 1963-68 88th-90th
To Investigate Operations of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) and Its Subsidiaries 6 ft. 1947-48 80th
To Investigate the Export-Import Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) 9 ft. 1953-54 83d
To Investigate Coffee Prices 3 ft. 1954 83d
To Investigate the Federal Housing Administration 53 ft. 1954 83d
Subcommittee (Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs) Volume Dates Congresses
On Consumer Affairs 3 ft. 1976-77 94th
On International Finance 1 ft. 1983-84 98th

Finding Aids: Albert U. Blair and John W. Porter, comps., Records of the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce, Subcommittee to Investigate Interstate Railroads, 1935-43, PI 75 (1954).

Subject Access Terms: Export controls Federal Farm Loan Bank Federal Reserve System Pecora (Ferdinand) Committee Securities and Exchange Commission stock exchange.

46.7 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON BUDGET
1973-88
71 lin. ft. and 127 rolls of microfilm

Textual Records: Legislative files, subject files, and other records, 1974-88. Records of Democratic Counsel Rick Brandon, 93d-99th Congresses, 1973-86 (including 127 rolls of microfilm).

46.8 RECORDS OF COMMITTEES RELATING TO CLAIMS
1816-1946
93 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Reports, correspondence, legislative case files, petitions and memorials, private claim bills, and other records of the following committees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Claims 70 ft. 1816-1946 14th-79th
On Private Land Claims 15 ft. 1826-1907 19th-67th
On Revolutionary Claims 8 ft. 1832-97 22d-55th

46.9 RECORDS OF COMMITTEES RELATING TO COMMERCE
1816-1988
2,490 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Correspondence, reports, hearings, transcripts, petitions and memorials, resolutions, minutes, dockets, legislative and investigative case files, nomination files, Presidential messages and communications, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Commerce and Manufactures 2 ft. 1816-25 14th-19th
On Commerce 84 ft. 1825-1946 19th-79th
On Manufacturers 9 ft. 1829-1928 19th-70th
On The Pacific Railroad 1 ft. 1864-71 38th-42d
On Railroads 1 ft. 1873-1911 43d-66th
On Transportation Routes to the Seaboard 1 in. 1879-93 46th-53d
On Mississippi River and Its Tributaries 3 in. 1879-97 46th-64th
On Pacific Railroad 3 in. 1889-97 51st-55th
On Interoceanic Canals 2 ft. 1899-1945 55th-79th
On Fisheries 1 ft. 1884-1918 48th-65th
On Standards, Weights, and Measures 3 in. 1911-21 61st-66th
On Interstate Commerce 67 ft. 1889-1946 50th-79th
On Interstate and Foreign Commerce and On Commerce 851 ft. 1947-68 80th-90th
On Commerce and On Commerce, Science and Transportation 733 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On Aeronautical and Space Sciences 169 ft. 1958-76 85th-94th
Subcommittee (Commerce, 1825-1946) Volume Dates Congresses
On Crime and Criminal Practice 6 in. 1933-34 73d
On the Department of Commerce and Merchant Marine 6 in. 1935-36 74th
Subcommittee (Interstate Commerce) Volume Dates Congresses
To Investigate Interstate Railroads 560 ft. 1935-42 74th-77th
Subcommittee (Interstate and Foreign Commerce/Commerce/Commerce, Science, and Transportation) Volume Dates Congresses
On Aviation 94 ft. 1949-86 81st-99th
On Communications 129 ft. 1949-86 81st-99th
On the Consumer 87 ft. 1966-86 89th-99th
On Merchant Marine and Maritime Matters 10 ft. 1949-54 81st-83d
On Merchant Marine Training and Education 8 in. 1955-56 84th
On Merchant Marine and Fisheries 65 ft. 1957-86 84th-99th
On Domestic Land and Water Transportation 5 ft. 1949-52 81st-82d
On Surface Transportation 109 ft. 1955-86 84th-99th
On Oil and Coal Shortages 2 ft. 1947-48 80th
On Trade Policy 8 ft. 1948-49 80th-81st
On Freight Absorption and Pricing 7 in. 1949-52 81st-82d
On Export Controls and Policies 4 ft. 1950-51 81st-82d
On New England Transportation 6 in. 1951-52 82d
Investigating Waterfront Racketeering and Port Security 8 ft. 1953-54 83d
To Study the Maritime Subsidy Program 3 ft. 1953-54 83d
On Automobile Marketing Practices 32 ft. 1956-58 84th-85th
On Military Air Transportation Service and Military Sea Transportation Service 1 ft. 1957-58 85th
On the Textile Industry 2 ft. 1958-64 85th-88th
To Study Foreign Commerce 5 ft. 1959-61 86th-87th
On Freedom of Communications 3 ft. 1959-62 86th-87th
To Study the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence 3 ft. 1963-64 88th
On Business, Trade, and Tourism 3 ft. 1981-86 97th-99th
On the Environment 3 ft. 1969-72 91st-92d
On Foreign Commerce and Tourism 9 ft. 1975-78 93d-95th
1985-86 99th
On Investigations 3 ft. 1971-72 92d
On National Oceans Policy 2 ft. 1981-82 97th
On Oceanography 1 ft. 1969-71 91st
On Oceans and Atmospheres 3 ft. 1973-74 93d
On Science, Technology, and Space 33 ft. 1957-86 85th-99th

Finding Aids: Albert U. Blair and John W. Porter, comps., Records of the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce, Subcommittee to Investigate Interstate Railroads, 1935-43, PI 75 (1954).

Subject Access Terms: Alaska, fisheries in Fairness Doctrine lighthouses S.S. Mohawk S.S. Morro Castle shipwrecks television, regulation of U.S. Life Saving Service.

46.10 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
1816-72
554 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, legislative dockets, hearing transcripts, correspondence, and other records of the committee and its subcommittees as follows:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On the District of Columbia 505 ft. 1816-1972 14th-92d
Subcommittee Volume Dates Congresses
On the Investigation of Wiretapping 4 ft. 1950-51 81st-82d
On the Investigation of Crime in the District of Columbia 17 ft. 1951-52 82d
To Investigate Public Transportation in the District of Columbia 28 ft. 1953-54 83d

46.11 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND RELATED COMMITTEES
1816-1988
928 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, correspondence, bills and resolutions, case files, Presidential messages and communications, nomination files, transcripts of hearings, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Finance* 832 ft. 1816-1988 14th-100th
On Pensions 61 ft. 1817-1947 14th-79th
Subcommittee (Finance) Volume Dates Congresses
To Investigate the Social Security Program 8 ft. 1947-48 80th
On Health 3 ft. 1977-84 95th-98th
On Trade 24 ft. 1976-86 96th-99th

* SEE ALSO nontextual descriptions.

Sound Recordings (13 items): Executive sessions of the Finance Committee, 96th-97th Congresses, 1979-82. SEE ALSO 46.26.

Subject Access Terms: Finance and a Uniform National Currency, Select Committee on GI Bill of Rights.

46.12 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
1789-1988
914 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Treaty files committee papers and minutes reports petitions, memorials, and resolutions claims legislative case files Presidential messages and communications transcripts of executive sessions and of hearings administrative and financial records nomination case files staff files and other records of the committee and its subcommittees as follows:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Foreign Relations 789 ft. 1789-1988 14th-100th
Subcommittee Volume Dates Congresses
On the Investigation of Loyalty of State Department Employees 5 ft. 1950 81st
On U.S. Foreign Aid to Free Europe 1 ft. 1951 81st
On Overseas Information Programs 4 ft. 1952-53 82d-83d
On Disarmament 16 ft. 1956-62 84th-87th
To Investigate Activities of Nondiplomatic Representatives of Foreign Principals in the United States 27 ft. 1960-62 86th-87th
On American Republics 5 in. 1967-68 90th
On Surveillance 1 ft. 1973-74 93d
On Multinational Corporations 35 ft. 1973-76 93d-94th
On Foreign Assistance 27 ft. 1973-80 93d-96th
On Foreign Economic Policy/International Economic Policy 18 ft. 1973-78 93d-95th

46.13 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS AND
RELATED COMMITTEES
1842-1988
1,617 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, Presidential messages and communications, hearings, investigative and legislative case files, staff memorandums, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Retrenchment 1 ft. 1842-54 27th-33d
On Investigation and Retrenchment 2 ft. 1871-73 42d
On Organization, Conduct, and Expenditure in Executive Departments 2 in. 1900-1 56th
On Expenditures in Executive Departments 22 ft. 1947-52 80th-82d
On Government Operations 95 ft. 1952-76 82d-94th
On Governmental Affairs* 186 ft. 1977-88 95th-100th
Subcommittee (Expenditures in Executive Departments) Volume Dates Congresses
On Investigations 12 ft. 1947-52 80th-82d
To Investigate Surplus Property 13 ft. 1947-48 80th
Subcommittee (Government Operations/Governmental Affairs) Volume Dates Congresses
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations 1,087 ft. 1948-82 80th-97th
On Reorganization and International Organizations 52 ft. 1958-64 85th-88th
On Intergovernmental Relations 19 ft. 1963-68 88th-90th
On Foreign Aid Expenditures 2 ft. 1965-68 89th-90th
On Governmental Efficiency and the District of Columbia 55 ft. 1975-86 94th-99th
On Federal Spending Practices and Open Government 36 ft. 1973-80 93d-96th
On Energy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Government Processes 33 ft. 1959-86 86th-99th
On Intergovernmental Relations* 37 ft. 1959-78 86th-95th
On the Post Office and Civil Service 1 ft. 1979-84 96th-98th

* SEE ALSO nontextual descriptions.

Machine-Readable Records (2 data sets): Legislative and oversight files of the Majority Office of the Governmental Affairs Committee, and of its Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations, 1986, with supporting documentation. SEE ALSO 46.27.

Subject Access Terms: "Army-McCarthy" hearings communists, investigations of labor racketeering McCarthy, Joseph R. McClellan, John L. organized crime War Assets Administration.

46.14 RECORDS OF COMMITTEES RELATING TO INTERIOR AND INSULAR
AFFAIRS
1816-1988
939 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, legislative dockets, treaty files, minutes, investigative and legislative case files, transcripts of hearings, nomination files, correspondence, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Public Lands 57 ft. 1816-1946 14th-79th
On the Geological Survey 1 in. 1905-9 59th-60th
On Indian Affairs 96 ft. 1820-1946 16th-79th
On Indian Depredations 8 in. 1893-1905 52d-59th
On Territories 7 ft. 1844-1920 28th-66th
On Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico 4 ft. 1899-1920 56th-66th
On the Philippines 2 ft. 1899-1920 56th-66th
On Territories and Insular Affairs 18 ft. 1923-46 68th-79th
On Mines and Mining 2 ft. 1866-1946 39th-79th
On Irrigation and Reclamation of Arid Lands 4 ft. 1894-1946 53d-79th
On Conservation of Natural Resources 2 in. 1909-13 61st-62d
On Interior and Insular Affairs 446 ft. 1947-76 80th-94th
On Energy and Natural Resources 392 ft. 1977-88 95th-100th
Subcommittee (Indian Affairs) Volume Dates Congresses
Indian Affairs Investigating Subcommittee 59 ft. 1928-53 70th-83d
Subcommittee (Interior and Insular Affairs/Energy and Natural Resources) Volume Dates Congresses
On Indian Affairs 6 in. 1948-49 80th-81st
To Investigate the Explosion at Centralia Coal Mine #5 2 ft. 1947 80th
On Minerals, Materials, and Fuel Economics 3 ft. 1953-54 83d
On Energy Research and Development 4 ft. 1977-86 95th-99th
On Recreation and Renewable Resources 8 ft. 1977-86 95th-99th
On Parks 1 ft. 1977-86 95th-99th
On Public Lands 20 ft. 1977-86 95th-99th

46.15 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY AND RELATED
COMMITTEES
1816-1988
3,600 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, minutes, legislative and executive dockets, Presidential messages and communications, legislative and investigative case files, correspondence, staff records, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Judiciary 1,239 ft. 1816-1988 14th-100th
On Revision of the Laws 3 in. 1869-1905 40th-58th
On Patents 26 ft. 1837-1946 25th-79th
On Immigration 36 ft. 1890-1946 51st-79th
Subcommittee Volume Dates Congresses
On Immigration and Naturalization 74 ft. 1947-88 80th-100th
On Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights 34 ft. 1955-76 84th-94th
Senate Internal Security Subcommittee 547 ft. 1951-77 82d-95th
On Trading with the Enemy Act 6 ft. 1952-66 82d-89th
On the Emigration of Refugees and Escapees 7 ft. 1953-60 83d-86th
On Juvenile Delinquency 341 ft. 1953-88 83d-100th
On Antitrust and Monopoly 750 ft. 1951-88 82d-100th
On Constitutional Rights 59 ft. 1959-76 86th-94th
On Improvement of the Federal Criminal Code 19 ft. 1955-58 84th-85th
On Administrative Practice and Procedure 39 ft. 1963-80 88th-96th
On Criminal Laws and Procedures 60 ft. 1966-88 89th-100th
On Citizens and Shareholders Rights and Remedies 3 ft. 1977-78 95th
On the Constitution 93 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On the Courts 36 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
To Investigate Activities of Individuals Representing Interests of Foreign Governments (Billy Carter-Libya Investigation) 30 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On National Penitentiaries 4 ft. 1971-78 92d-95th
On Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks 54 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On Regulatory Reform 1 ft. 1981-82 97th
On Security and Terrorism 26 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On Separation of Powers 48 ft. 1959-78 86th-95th

46.16 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND PUBLIC WELFARE AND
RELATED COMMITTEES
1870-1988
774 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, correspondence, investigation files, Presidential messages and communications, transcripts of hearings, staff files, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Education and Labor* 48 ft. 1870-1946 41st-79th
On Epidemic Diseases 7 in. 1878-92 45th-52d
On Public Health and National Quarantine 7 in. 1896-1921 54th-66th
To Establish a University of the United States 3 in. 1895-1902 53d-57th
On Labor and Public Welfare and On Labor and Human Resources 358 ft. 1947-88 80th-100th
Subcommittee (Education and Labor) Volume Dates Congresses
Investigating Violations of Free Speech and Labor 57 ft. 1936-41 74th-76th
On Wartime Health and Education 25 ft. 1943-46 78th-79th
Subcommittee (Labor and Public Welfare) Volume Dates Congresses
On Welfare and Pension Funds 85 ft. 1954-56 83d-84th
On Education 14 ft. 1961-64 87th-88th
On Employment, Manpower, and Poverty 24 ft. 1965-68 89th-90th
On Health 35 ft. 1961-66 87th-89th
On Migratory Labor 50 ft. 1959-68 86th-90th
On Veterans Affairs 22 ft. 1957-68 85th-90th
Subcommittee (Labor and Human Resources) Volume Dates Congresses
On Aging 11 ft. 1983-86 98th-99th
On Children, Family, Drugs, and Alcoholism 3 ft. 1983-86 98th-99th
On Children and Youth 7 ft. 1971-76 92d-94th
On Child and Human Development 4 ft. 1977-80 95th-96th
On Employment, Poverty, and Migratory Labor 4 ft. 1977-78 95th
On Family and Human Services 3 ft. 1981-86 97th-99th
On the Handicapped 11 ft. 1971-80 92d-96th
On Health and Scientific Resources 6 ft. 1979-82 96th-97th
On Labor 5 ft. 1981-86 97th-99th

* SEE ALSO nontextual descriptions.

Motion Pictures (4 reels): Newsreel footage acquired by the Education and Labor Committee of labor unrest at the San Francisco, CA, docks, 1936 the Chicago, IL, plant of the Republic Steel Company, 1937 and the cannery strike in Stockton, CA, 1938.

Finding Aids: George P. Perros, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Senate Committee on Education and Labor: Subcommittee on Wartime Health and Education, 1943-46, PI 42 (1952).

46.17 RECORDS OF THE POST OFFICE AND CIVIL SERVICE AND
PREDECESSOR COMMITTEES
1816-1976
317 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, legislative and executive dockets, legislative case files, Presidential messages and communications, nomination files, correspondence, staff papers, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Post Office and Post Roads 77 ft. 1816-1946 14th-79th
On Civil Service and Retrenchment 4 ft. 1874-1916 43d-64th
On Civil Service 5 ft. 1921-46 67th-79th
On the Census and Its Predecessor 7 in. 1879-1908 45th-60th
On Post Office and Civil Service 202 ft. 1947-76 80th-94th
Subcommittee (Post Office and Civil Service) Volume Dates Congresses
Investigating Postmaster Appointments 6 ft. 1947-48 80th
On Federal Manpower Policies 6 ft. 1951-53 82d-83d
Investigating Postal Operations 4 ft. 1953-54 83d
On the Government Employees Security Program 10 ft. 1955-56 84th
On the Administration of the Civil Service System and Postal Service 2 ft. 1955-57 84th-85th

46.18 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
AND ITS PREDECESSORS
1820-1988
366 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, legislative dockets and case files, Presidential messages and communications, nomination files, correspondence, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Roads and Canals 4 ft. 1820-57 16th-37th
On Public Buildings and Grounds 15 ft. 1838-1946 25th-79th
On Public Works and On Environment and Public Works 348 ft. 1947-88 80th-100th
Subcommittee (Public Works) Volume Dates Congresses
On Air and Water Pollution 10 in. 1965 89th
On Roads 3 ft. 1967-70 90th-91st
Subcommittee (Environment and Public Works) Volume Dates Congresses
On Environmental Pollution 61 ft. 1977-86 95th-99th
On Nuclear Regulation 14 ft. 1977-86 95th-99th
On Water Resources 10 ft. 1977-86 95th-99th

46.19 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON RULES AND ADMINISTRATION AND
ITS PREDECESSORS
1789-1988
543 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, minutes, dockets, correspondence, legislative case files, transcripts of hearings and executive sessions, investigation files, and other records of the following committees and subcommittees:

Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Enrolled Bills 13 ft. 1789-1941 1st-77th
To Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses of the Senate 1 ft. 1817-1946 14th-79th
On Printing 25 ft. 1842-1946 27th-79th
On the Library 9 ft. 1849-1946 30th-79th
On Privileges and Elections 52 ft. 1871-1946 42d-79th
On Rules 3 ft. 1885-1946 48th-79th
On Rules and Administration 278 ft. 1947-88 80th-100th
On Impeachment of Judge Harry E. Claiborne* 7 ft. 1986 99th
Subcommittee (Rules and Administration) Volume Dates Congresses
On Privileges and Elections 141 ft. 1947-68 80th-90th
On Amendments to Senate Rule XXII (Cloture Rule) 2 ft. 1957-58 85th
On Financial and Business Activities of Senate Employees and Former Senate Employees 19 ft. 1963-66 88th-89th

* SEE ALSO nontextual descriptions.

Machine-Readable Records (8 data sets): Text files of executive (closed sessions) of the Impeachment Trial Committee (impeachment trial of Judge Harry E. Claiborne), 1986, with supporting documentation. SEE ALSO 46.27.

46.20 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS
1969-88
269 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, correspondence, legislative case files, transcripts of hearings and executive sessions, investigative files, and other records, 1969-88.

46.21 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
1971-82
55 lin. ft. and 11 rolls of microfilm

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, correspondence, legislative files, subject files, transcripts of hearings, nomination files, and other records, 1971-82. Microfilm copy of general correspondence, 97th Congress, 1981-82 (11 rolls).

46.22 RECORDS OF SELECT AND SPECIAL COMMITTEES
1789-1988
3,107 lin. ft.

History: During the early Congresses, select committees, each established to perform a specific function and expiring upon completion of that task, performed the majority of the committee work for the Senate. In the modern Senate, standing committees account for most committee activity. They are appointed to investigate and report on specific issues.

46.22.1 Records of select committees, 1789-1921 (1st-66th
Congresses)

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, correspondence, legislative case files, transcripts of hearings and executive sessions, investigative files, and other records of select committees on various subjects, 1789-1921.

Microfilm Publication: M1196.

Subject Access Terms: Epidemic diseases Harpers Ferry, VA, invasion of Indian depredations women's suffrage.

46.22.2 Records of select committees, 1923-88 (67th-100th
Congresses)

Textual Records: Committee papers, reports, petitions, memorials, bills and resolutions, correspondence, legislative case files, transcripts of hearings and executive sessions, investigative files, and other records of the following select committees:

Select or Special Committee Volume Dates Congresses
On Investigation of the United States Veterans' Bureau 17 ft. 1923-24 67th-68th
To Investigate Air Mail and Ocean Mail Contracts 72 ft. 1933-35 72d-74th
Investigating the Munitions Industry 160 ft. 1934-36 73d-74th
To Investigate the Administration of the Virgin Islands 8 ft. 1935 74th
To Investigate Production, Transportation, and Marketing of Wool 10 ft. 1935-38 74th-75th
To Investigate Lobbying Activities 120 ft. 1935-40 74th-76th
To Investigate Unemployment and Relief 6 in. 1937 75th
To Investigate Conditions in the American Merchant Marine 7 ft. 1938-42 75th-77th
To Investigate Administration and Operation of Civil Service Laws and Classification Act of 1923 10 ft. 1938-45 75th-79th
To Investigate the National Defense Program* 775 ft. 1941-48 77th-80th
To Investigate Gasoline and Fuel Oil Shortages 18 ft. 1941-44 77th-78th
Investigating Petroleum Resources 20 ft. 1944 79th
On Reconstruction of Senate Roof and Skylights and Remodeling of Senate Chamber 3 in. 1945-48 79th-80th
On Atomic Energy 15 ft. 1945-46 79th
To Investigate Campaign Expenditures (various committees) 93 ft. 1924-46 68th-79th
Investigation of Bureau of Internal Revenue 4 in. 1924 68th
On Post Office Leases 1 in. 1930-31 71st
To Study Reorganization of Courts 2 in. 1937 75th
On Taxation of Governmental Securities and Salaries 2 in. 1938 75th
On Small Business 215 ft. 1950 81st
To Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce 90 ft. 1950-51 81st-82d
On Investigation of Cover on Mail of Senators 1 in. 1954 83d
For Contribution Investigation 2 ft. 1956 84th
To Investigate Political Activities, Lobbying, and Campaign Contributions 18 ft. 1956-57 84th-85th
To Study Foreign Aid Program 3 ft. 1956-57 84th-85th
On Improper Activities in Labor-Management Field 488 ft. 1957-60 85th-86th
On National Water Resources 12 ft. 1959-60 86th
On Standards and Conduct 17 ft. 1964-76 88th-94th
On Aging 18 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On Ethics 52 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On Indian Affairs 47 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On Presidential Campaign Activities* 435 ft. 1973-74 93d
To Study Law Enforcement Activities of the Department of Justice 42 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On Nutrition and Human Needs 10 ft. 1967-88 90th-100th
Senate Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 11 ft. 1986-87 99th-100th
On Standards and Conduct 32 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
To Study Senate Committee System 3 ft. 1975-76 94th
1983-84 98th
To Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (Church Committee)** 105 ft. 1958-76 94th
On the Operation of the Senate 14 ft. 1975-77 94th-95th
On National Emergencies and Delegated Emergency Powers 23 ft. 1969-88 91st-100th
On Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition* 125 ft. 1987 100th

* SEE ALSO nontextual descriptions. ** Portions relating to President Kennedy's assassination are administered by the National Archives as part of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection.

Video Recordings (240 items): Hearings of the Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition, 1986-87. SEE ALSO 46.25.

Sound Recordings (393 items): Hearings before the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, February 11, 1946 (5 items). Recordings made or acquired by the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, 1972-74 (388 items). SEE ALSO 46.26.

Machine-Readable Records (2 data sets): Records of the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, consisting of Master Data Base of abstracts for each item of evidence or session of testimony and Master Data Base with Public Information, 1973-74, with supporting documentation. SEE ALSO 46.27.

Finding Aids: Watson G. Caudill, Toussaint L. Prince, and Albert U. Blair, comps., Records of the Special Committee of the Senate to Investigate Air-Mail and Ocean-Mail Contracts, 1933-35, PI 63 (1953). Lester W. Smith, comp., "Preliminary Checklist of the Records of the Special Committee Investigating the Munitions Industry, United States Senate, 1934-36," PC 23 (1945). Harold E. Hufford, comp., assisted by Toussaint L. Prince, Records of the Special Committee of the Senate to Investigate the National Defense Program, 1941-48, PI 48 (1952). George P. Perros, comp., Records of the Special Committee of the Senate to Investigate Petroleum Resources, 1944-46, PI 61 (1953). George P. Perros, comp., Records of the Special Committee of the Senate on Atomic Energy, 1945-46, PI 62 (1953).

Subject Access Terms: ABSCAM Investigation Truman Committee Watergate Committee.

46.23 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)
1790-1958
1,305 items

Manuscript maps prepared by Executive branch agencies and forwarded to the Senate, 1807-1907 (278 items). Maps published as exhibits to Senate executive documents, showing land surveys, explorations, military operations, boundaries, and Indian land cessions, 1790-1958 (777 items). Internal improvement maps, showing canals, railroads, national roads, and harbors in the eastern United States, 1826-35 (244 items). Committee maps, 1791- 1866 (6 items).

46.24 MOTION PICTURES (GENERAL)

46.25 VIDEO RECORDINGS (GENERAL)
1986-90
4,960 items

Television coverage of floor proceedings, 1986-90.

46.26 SOUND RECORDINGS (GENERAL)
1975-76
65 items

Meetings, seminars, and interviews, Commission on the Operation of the Senate, 1975-76.

46.27 MACHINE-READABLE RECORDS (GENERAL)

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.

This page was last reviewed on March 9, 2020.
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