Senate Administrative Officers and Officials

Senate Administrative Officers and Officials
Lorraine H. Tong
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Article I, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the Senate to choose its
officers, but does not specifically identify them by title. The officers currently elected by
the Senate are the President pro tempore, Secretary of the Senate, Sergeant at Arms,
chaplain, secretary for the majority, and secretary for the minority. The Senate has also
established appointive offices to handle certain other administrative functions that are
under the direction of the legal counsel, legislative counsel, and parliamentarian. In
addition, the Architect of the Capitol, an officer of Congress, is appointed by the
President, subject to Senate confirmation. (This report does not include the President pro
tempore, who is a member of the Senate.) For more information on congressional
processes, see [].
Elected by the Senate
Secretary of the Senate. Sometimes called the Senate’s “city manager,” the
Secretary of the Senate is the chief administrative and budgetary officer of the Senate.
The Secretary manages the functions that support the legislative process of the Senate.
Administrative functions include management of documents, election certifications,
administering oaths, housekeeping and record keeping services, and registration of
lobbyists. Legislative functions include the supervision of work performed by the offices
of the parliamentarian, journal clerk, legislative clerk, executive clerk, bill clerk, Daily
Digest, and official reporters of debates. (See CRS Report 98-747, Secretary of the
Senate: Legislative and Administrative Duties.)
Sergeant at Arms. The Senate Sergeant at Arms is the chief protocol, law
enforcement, and administrative support officer of the Senate. The Sergeant at Arms is
responsible for the security of the Senate, as well as the enforcement of its rules and
regulations. Offices under the Sergeant at Arms are responsible for the Senate’s
computer system, postal services, recording and photographic studios,
telecommunications, media facilities, furniture and furnishings, beauty and barber shops,
parking facilities, and financial management services. The Sergeant at Arms also serves
with the House Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol on the Capitol Police
Board and Capitol Guide Board. (See CRS Report 98-748, Sergeant at Arms and
Doorkeeper of the Senate: Legislative and Administrative Duties.)
Chaplain. The chaplain of the Senate opens each session with a formal prayer. The
chaplain serves as minister and pastoral counselor to Senators, their families, and staffs.

The chaplain neither represents nor is selected based on affiliation to a particular
denomination. Guest chaplains of various denominations offer the opening prayer. (See
CRS Report RS20427, House and Senate Chaplains.)
Nominated by Majority or Minority Leader
Secretary for the Majority/Secretary for the Minority. The secretary for the
majority and secretary for the minority are approved by the respective party conferences
and then elected by the Senate. The secretaries coordinate scheduling and the
dissemination of information between party floor leaders and individual Senators. The
secretaries also organize conference matters, oversee party activities in the Senate
chamber, supervise the cloakrooms, brief Senators on votes and pending legislation, and,
at the leadership’s request, poll Senators. In addition, they also assist the majority and
minority leaders, respectively, in determining the best day to schedule a particular vote.
Appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Senate Legal Counsel. The Senate legal counsel represents the Senate,
individual Senators, officers, committees, and their staff in litigation relating to their
official duties (Senate access only: []).
This official is appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate from among
recommendations submitted by the majority and minority leaders. (See CRS Report
RS22891, Office of Senate Legal Counsel.)
Senate Legislative Counsel. The Senate legislative counsel provides legislative
counseling and drafting assistance to any Senator, committee, or office of the Senate. The
Office of the Legislative Counsel routinely assists in drafting original measures and is
often asked to review drafts of bills originating from the executive branch or elsewhere
(Senate access only: []).
Appointed by Secretary of the Senate
with Majority Leader Approval
Senate Parliamentarian. The Senate parliamentarian functions under the
direction of the Secretary of the Senate, and advises the presiding officer of the Senate on
matters related to procedure. He refers measures to committees on behalf of the presiding
officer, analyzes Senate proceedings, and maintains and publishes precedents (see
Riddick’s Senate Procedure). The parliamentarian also ensures that consideration of bills,
resolutions, treaties, nominations, and trials of impeachment are in compliance with
Senate rules, constitutional provisions, and public law. In addition to advising Senators,
committees, and staff, the parliamentarian also provides information on Senate legislative
procedure to officers of the federal government, the press, and the general public. (See
CRS Report RS20544, The Office of the Parliamentarian in the House and Senate.)
Appointed by the President
Architect of the Capitol. As an officer of Congress, the Architect of the Capitol
(AOC) is charged with the operation, maintenance, and improvement of the U.S. Capitol
and adjacent buildings and grounds. The AOC also performs certain administrative

functions affecting the Senate and House. A bicameral congressional advisory
commission conducts a search for an Architect, who is then nominated by the President
and confirmed by the Senate for a tenure limited to 10 years. (See [],
and CRS Report RL32820, Architect of the Capitol: Appointment, Duties, and Current