Presiding Officer of the United States Senate

Presiding Officer of the United States Senate

The Presiding Officer is the person who presides over the United States Senate and is charged with maintaining order and decorum, recognizing members to speak, and interpreting the Senate's rules, practices and precedents. The Presiding Officer is a role, not an actual office; whoever is presiding at the time is the Presiding Officer.

The President pro tempore (a Senator elected to the post by the Senate at the beginning of each Congress, which since World War II by custom has been the most senior Senator of the majority party) is nominally responsible for presiding over the Senate "in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of the President of the United States" (Article I, Section 3, Clause 5). More typically, junior senators of the majority party designated by the President pro tempore preside over the chamber.

An exception to this pattern is when the Senate hears the impeachment trials of the President of the United States, in which the Chief Justice of the United States is the presiding officer. This has occurred only twice, during the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson in 1868 (in which Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presided) and that of Bill Clinton in 1999 (in which Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist presided).

Manner of address

The presiding officer is usually addressed as "Mr. President" or "Madame President." One exception is during impeachment trials of the president; the Chief Justice was referred to as "Mr. Chief Justice" both in 1868 and in 1999 while presiding over the Senate.[1]

During George H. W. Bush did so in 1991.

See also


  1. ^ See closing argument of Thaddeus Stevens during the trial of President Johnson and a transcript of Day 17 of the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton