Knowing Your Government: What A Senator’s Real Job Is Explained

politicsThe United States Senate is comprised of one hundred members—two senators from each of the 50 states—who serve six-year, overlapping terms.

There are 34 seats up for election in 2016, of which 24 are held by Republicans.

Senators, along with members of the House of Representatives, propose, author, and vote on federal legislation that touches upon all aspects of U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Senators provide advice and consent on executive nominations and treaties and conduct oversight of all branches of the federal government.

They have various committee. They are as follows: Standing Committee, a Joint Committee, and a Special or Select Committee

Standing Committees are permanent committees established under the standing rules of the Senate and specialize in the consideration of particular subject areas. The Senate currently has 16 standing Committees. Committees are essential to the effective operation of legislative bodies. Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction. As “little legislatures,” committees monitor on-going governmental operations, identify issues suitable for legislative review, gather and evaluate information; and recommend courses of action to their parent body.

The Senate currently operates 24 of these fact-finding, consensus-building, policy-recommending panels. Although many are almost as old as the Senate itself, senators periodically update their jurisdictions and resources to meet the evolving demands of modern American life.

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

Joint Committees include membership from both houses of Congress. Joint committees are usually established with narrow jurisdictions and normally lack authority to report legislation. Chair-ship usually alternates each Congress between members from the House and Senate.

Select and joint committees generally handle oversight or housekeeping responsibilities. As of this moment we have the following

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

Special or Select Committees are established by the Senate for a limited time period to perform a particular study or investigation. These committees might be given or denied authority to report legislation to the Senate.

This is the 114th Seated Congress 114th Congress (2015-2017)

  • Majority Party: Republican (54 seats)
  • Minority Party: Democrat (44 seats)
  • Other Parties: 2 Independents (both caucus with the Democrats)
    Total Seats: 100
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