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THE SENATE. The Senate of the United States is composed of two senators from each State. They are chosen by the legislature of the State. The members of each house,
on the same day, vote viva voce for a senaChoice of tor. On the next day the two houses meet Members.
in convention; and if the same person has received a majority of all the votes cast in each house he is declared elected. If no person has received such majorities, then the two houses, sitting as one body, proceed to vote viva voce; and, if a majority of each house is present, the person who receives a majority of the votes cast is declared elected. If there is no choice on the first day, they are required to meet, and take at least one vote each day, until choice is made or the session closes. This method is prescribed by a United States law. The term of service is six years. The first members
were arranged in three classes, one-third Term.
retiring in two years, one-third in four years, and one-third in six years. By this arrangement
one-third of the Senate retires biennially. Vacancies.
* If a vacancy happens, by resignation or otherwise, and the legislature of the State is not in session, the governor may make a temporary appointment until the next meeting of the legislature, when the vacancy is filled in the usual way. The person so chosen holds office only for the remainder of the term for which his predecessor was elected. The following are the requisite qualifications of a
senator : Qualifications.
1. He must be at least thirty years of age.
2. He must have been at least nine years a citizen of the United States.
3. When elected, he must be an inhabitant of the State.
The organization of the Senate is similar to that of the House. The vice-president of the United States is the presiding officer of the Senate; but has no vote, except the house be equally divided. In
Organization. the absence of the vice-president, the Senate chooses a president pro tempore.
The Senate has some peculiar executive functions, which will be noticed in the next chapter.
Special Powers. It has also the power to try all impeachments. The details of the trial will be considered separately.
GENERAL PROVISIONS RESPECTING CONGRESS. Each house is the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its members. Each house Control of Mem.
punish its members for disorderly conduct, and by vote of two-thirds may expel a member. Members are sometimes publicly reprimanded by the speaker, on vote of the house, for using unparliamentary language, or for other official misconduct. Members of the House of Representatives were expelled in the early part of the war of the Rebellion, for treasonable language and acts.
A majority of each house is a quorum ; and, in order to secure this, a smaller number have the power to compel the attendance of absent
Quorum. members. Less than a quorum may adjourn from day
Each member of Congress is required to take oath to
support the Constitution; and, since the Oaths.
war of the Rebellion, this oath has been made more explicit. No member of either house can, during the time for
· which he was elected, be appointed to any Prohibitions.
. civil office under the United States which has been created, or the salary of which has been increased, during his term. No person holding any office under the United States can be a member of either house during his continuance in office. The Constitution requires at least one annual session
of Congress, to begin on the first Monday Sessions.
in December, unless a different time be fixed by law. Each Congress usually holds two sessions: one longer, beginning in December of the odd year, and continuing until the next midsummer; a second, shorter, beginning in December of the even year, and continuing until the 4th of March following, when the term of service of all the representatives, and of one-third of the senators, expires. Other sessions are sometimes held, either at times fixed by Congress, or when called by the President. Neither house can, during the session, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the Congress is sitting.
1 By the phrase, “a Congress," is meant the two branches holding office during any one representative term. Thus the tirst house of representatives and the seuators in office during the first two years forrued the first Congress; and each Congress is distinguished by the number of the representative term, slating from March 4, 1789. The Congress whose terw began March 4, 1883, was the forty-eighth.
The compensation of the members of Congress is determined by law, and is paid out of the
Salary. treasury of the United States. The salary has been increased from time to time. At present the salary of representatives and senators is five thousand dollars a year, with compensation for travelling expenses. The presiding officer of each branch receives eight thousand dollars.
The steps in making laws are essentially the same in Congress as in the State legislatures.
Making Laws. After passing the two houses, bills are sent to the President. If he approves, he signs: if not, he returns the bill to the house in which it originated, where his objections are recorded,
Veto. and the bill is again voted upon. If it is approved by two-thirds of each house, it becomes a law. The President has ten days, Sundays excepted, in which to consider the bill. If he does not return it within that time, it becomes a law without his signature, unless Congress adjourns before the expiration of the ten days.
Business is transacted, as in other legislative bodies, by the help of committees. In the house
Committees. of representatives, the appointment of committees is vested in the Speaker. This is a difficult and delicate task. It is customary to have the two leading political parties represented in each committee nearly in the proportion which they have in the house. The most important committees are, the committee of ways and means, — whose work is to devise means for raising the money necessary to carry on the government, — the committee on appropriations, on commerce, on banks and currency, on the judiciary. The position of chairman of one of these committees is a most honorable one; and the Speaker must not only seek fitness for the places, but he must fill them with members from different parts of the country, to avoid sectional jealousy. The senate appoints its own committees, the lists being made up by caucuses of the two parties, previously held. The form of the legislative department was adopted
after much discussion and opposition. Form of Congress a Com.. The small States demanded equality of
representation in both houses: the large States wished it in neither. The federal and national ideas were in conflict. The result was a compromise. The house of representatives embodies the national idea, the members being chosen directly by the people, and the number being proportioned to the population. The senate represents the federal idea, the members being chosen by the legislature, and all the States being equally represented.