The Constitution names the vice president of the United States as the president of the Senate. In addition to serving as presiding officer, the vice president has the sole power to break a tie vote in the Senate and formally presides over the receiving and counting of electoral ballots cast in presidential elections. Modern vice presidents also serve as principal advisors to the president.
The United States Constitution provides for a president pro tempore to preside over the Senate in the absence of the vice president. The president pro tempore is third in the line of presidential succession, behind the vice president and the Speaker of the House. By tradition, this position goes to the senior member of the majority party.
An elected officer, the secretary of the Senate supervises an extensive array of offices and services to expedite the day-to-day operations of the United States Senate. The secretary’s responsibilities include both legislative and administrative functions, with a wide-ranging jurisdiction that includes clerks and librarians, historians and curators, reporters of debate, stationery supplies, disbursement of payrolls, education of Senate pages, and the maintenance of public records.
The sergeant at arms and doorkeeper, elected by the members of the Senate, serves as the protocol and chief law enforcement officer of the Senate and is the principal administrative manager for most support services. Established in 1789, the Office of Doorkeeper became "Sergeant-at-Arms and Doorkeeper" in 1798.
Both major parties elect a party secretary. One serves as secretary for the majority and the other as secretary for the minority. Seated on either side of the Senate Chamber, the party secretaries see that pages are at their posts and cloakrooms are staffed. They schedule legislation on the floor and inform senators of all pending business, keeping them updated on bills, motions, nominations, and amendments in preparation for roll-call votes.
The Senate elected its first chaplain on April 25, 1789, continuing a tradition established by the Continental Congress. In addition to opening each day's session with a prayer, the chaplain's duties include spiritual care and counseling for senators, their families, and their staffs.
Senators depend on the assistance of staff on Senate committees and in their individual offices, both in Washington, D.C., and in their home states. Senate committee staffs include clerks, staff directors, staff assistants, legal counsel, researchers, policy analysts, press assistants, and archivists. Most senators’ offices include a chief of staff to manage the office, legislative correspondents to communicate with constituents, and legislative directors and assistants to help develop legislation, as well as schedulers, communications and press staff, and other administrative assistants.
Since the early 19th century, the Senate has employed young people, known as pages, to assist senators in the Chamber. The earliest pages were relatives of Senate employees, some as young as nine years old. Today’s pages, appointed and sponsored by a senator, must be high school juniors, at least 16 years old, and attend school. Senate page duties consist primarily of delivery of correspondence and legislative material within the Capitol complex. Other duties include preparing the Chamber for Senate sessions and carrying bills and amendments to the desk.