Senate Procedure and Practice
From the Foreword by U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist: The United States Senate is often referred to as the world's greatest deliberative body. And that is for good reason. The Senate Chamber from its inception to its Golden Age to the present day has been the setting for some of the most moving, decisive, and consequential debates in American history. But why the Senate? Why the Senate and not its sister chamber the House of Representatives? Why the Senate so unlike the upper chambers of many other nations? Why the Senate not for a few years or even decades but continuously over the entire course of the Republic? The Senate is first and foremost a legislative body. It exists to pass legislation that may become law or to prevent legislation from becoming law. Beyond that, its responsibilities are to consent or deny consent to the ratification of treaties, to provide advice and consent on presidential nominees, and to try impeachments. It is by far the most powerful and influential upper chamber anywhere in the world. The Senate has a unique character it is a small, stable, stately, thoughtful, independent, experienced, deliberative body. With equal legislative authority to the House of Representatives, it was hoped by the Framers that the Senate would be a steady anchor in the sometimes raging seas of representative democracy. This along its duties specified in the Constitution was the Framer's design for the Senate. But it was just a design. The Senate required a structure from which it could operate. And that structure has for more than 200 years taken take the form of Senate procedure standing rules, rule-making statutes, and precedents. The Senate's rules, rule-making statures, and precedents are nothing less than the institution's DNA: they have evolved over time; they are intertwined; they are complex; and those who unlock and understand and apply Senate procedure can hold tremendous sway over their colleagues and the course of the Senate's deliberations.
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