The sergeant at arms serves the Senate as its chief law enforcement and protocol officer and is the administrative manager for a host of support services in the Senate. Elected by the senators, each sergeant at arms serves until a successor is chosen.
As chief law enforcement and protocol officer, the sergeant at arms enforces all rules of the Senate—its Standing Rules, Standing Orders, Rules for the Regulation of the Senate Wing, and Rules for Impeachment Trials—and coordinates all official events and visits for the Senate. This includes escorting the president, other heads of state, and official guests while they attend official functions in the Capitol. As the Senate’s chief law enforcement officer, the sergeant at arms can compel senators to come to the Senate Chamber to establish a quorum. In addition, the sergeant at arms supervises the Senate wing of the Capitol, maintaining security in the Capitol and in all the Senate buildings and controlling access to the Senate Chamber and galleries.
Doorkeepers appointed by, and acting on behalf of, the sergeant at arms maintain order in the Senate Chamber, in the lobby, in adjoining rooms, and in the galleries. They manage access to the Senate Chamber by making sure only those with floor privileges under the Senate rules may enter the Chamber. The doorkeepers regulate attendance in the galleries by rotating visitors through the Public Gallery and ensuring the aisles are unobstructed, furnishing passes to foreign visitors for the Diplomatic Gallery, and supervising the Family Gallery for senators’ families and special guests.
As chief law enforcement officer of the Senate, the sergeant at arms is charged with maintaining security in the Capitol and all Senate buildings, protecting the members of Congress, and enforcing all rules of the Committee on Rules and Administration regulating the Senate wing of the Capitol and the Senate office buildings. The sergeant at arms can compel senators to come to the Senate Chamber to establish a quorum and can arrest and detain any person violating Senate rules. The sergeant at arms also is responsible for issuing subpoenas at the direction of the president of the Senate or a committee chairman. As a member of the Capitol Police Board, the sergeant at arms oversees policing of the Capitol complex buildings and grounds.
The sergeant at arms’s protocol responsibilities include escorting the president and other heads of state or official guests of the Senate who are attending official functions in the Capitol; making arrangements for funerals of senators who die in office; assisting in plans for the inauguration of the president and vice president; and organizing the swearing-in and orientation programs for newly elected senators. The sergeant at arms leads the senators from the Senate to the House Chamber for joint sessions of Congress, to the presidential inaugural platform, or to any location where the Senate may resolve to meet. The sergeant at arms is also the custodian of the Senate gavel.
While standing committees of print, photographic, and radio and television correspondents administer the Media Galleries subject to review and approval of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, the gallery staff is employed by the sergeant at arms. The Media Galleries provide journalists with working space and notices of coming events, and they facilitate press conferences. To observe the Senate’s proceedings, members of the media go to the Press Gallery. In the galleries of the Senate Chamber, writing materials are permitted only in the Press Gallery.
The sergeant at arms is responsible for an array of administrative services in the Senate, including facilities management, recording and photographic services, and printing and graphics services. The SAA provides assistance to all Senate offices with their staffing, mail processing, purchasing, and financial needs. The SAA also shares responsibility for the U.S. Capitol Police, the Capitol Guide Service, the Senate Page Program, the Joint Senate Office of Training and Development, and the Capitol Telephone Exchange. Senators rely on the sergeant at arms for lease negotiations, equipment, and technology in both their Washington, D.C., offices and their home state offices.
In Washington, D.C., senators rely on the sergeant at arms for software, computers, equipment, and repairs. The software, computers, and equipment are tailored to the Senate’s needs and include office automation systems, correspondence management systems, and telephone services and support.
The Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness provides the management structure to oversee and integrate security and emergency preparedness planning, policies, and programs for the Senate. Working in close cooperation with the secretary of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Capitol Police, this office is responsible for continuity of operations training and assistance to the Senate as well as integrating Senate security plans.
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