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The Idea of the Senate

Photo of Richard Arenberg

“When you spend a lot of time in the Senate, you come to realize, as I always say, that these offices are 100 feudal fiefdoms, each with its own prince or princess, and its own currency, its own structure, its own culture.”

Richard A. Arenberg: Staff to Senators Paul Tsongas, George Mitchell and Carl Levin

Describing what makes the Senate so unique, Richard Arenberg discusses the challenges of studying the institution with Senate historian Donald Ritchie.

Photo of Martin Gold

"...in the House it’s kind of a majoritarian institution, but in the Senate a great power flows to the minority, to minority coalitions, to individual members..."

Martin Gold: Counsel to the Senate Republican Leader

Interviewed by Senate historian Donald Ritchie, Martin Gold discusses the difficulty of educating people about the unique nature of the Senate and the enormous power that is held by each individual senator.

Floyd M. Riddick

“The precedents of the Senate are just as significant as the rules of the Senate.”

Floyd M. Riddick: Senate Parliamentarian

Former Senate Parliamentarian Floyd Riddick describes to Senate historian Donald Ritchie how procedural decisions made in the Senate become de facto rules of the Senate.


New Collection

Idea of the Senate

Senate Historical Office

Historical information provided by the Senate Historical Office.