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Civil War Sesquicentennial
The Great Uprising of the North--An Anniversary Picture--April 12, 1862.
In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a continuing series of online features explores the Senate's wartime experience.
This Week in Senate History
JudahBenjamin
December 20, 1860

The Senate established its so-called "Committee of Thirteen" as a last-ditch effort to prevent the breakup of the Union on the same day that South Carolina became the first state to vote for secession.

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2015 Session Schedule
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Tuesday, Jan 06, 2015

12:00 p.m.: Convene the first session of the 114th Congress.


Previous Meeting

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

The Senate convened at 10:00 a.m. and adjourned sine die at 11:25 p.m. under the provisions of H. Con. Res. 125. Eight record votes were taken.


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Floor Activity
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Before Taking the Oath

Every two years, following the congressional elections, a new class of senators comes to the Capitol to assume the duties of United States senators. They take the oath of office in January, but the business of becoming a senator starts immediately after the election.


The United States Senate in Session


From 1789 until the 1970s, a new senator had to rely upon the friendly advice of senior members or Senate officers and staff to learn the traditions and folkways of the Senate. Beginning in the 1970s, however, the Senate instituted a formal orientation program designed to help newly elected members become acquainted with the Capitol, learn the Senate’s rules and procedures, set up an office and hire staff, and participate in leadership elections. For many years, Senator Robert C. Byrd, the Senate’s longest-serving member, spoke to each freshman class, offering his advice and historical perspective.


The Opening of the United States Senate


At times, senators have been appointed or have come to office in unusual ways or during difficult periods of our national history, but every new senator faces similar challenges. For this reason, as former Senate Parliamentarian Floyd Riddick explains, every two years the Senate creates a “mini-school” for its new members.

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