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About the Committee System

Committees are essential to the effective operation of the Senate. Through investigations and hearings, committees gather information on national and international problems within their jurisdiction in order to draft, consider, and recommend legislation to the full membership of the Senate. Only a small percentage of bills considered by committees reach the Senate floor. They evaluate presidential nominees for executive and judicial posts and provide oversight of federal government operations.

The Senate is currently home to 24 committees: there are 16 standing committees, four special or select committees, and four joint committees. Standing committees are permanent bodies with specific responsibilities and jurisdictions that are defined in the Senate's rules. Although some committees are almost as old as the Senate itself, the Senate periodically updates the names and jurisdictions of standing committees to address the issues of an evolving nation. The four special or select committees were initially created by a Senate resolution for specific purposes and are now regarded as permanent. The Senate has authorized other select investigating committees throughout its history that have expired after submitting a final report. The four joint committees, made up of senators and representatives, provide administrative coordination between the House and Senate and conduct studies for the benefit of both houses.

For a complete list of Senate committees and their current membership, click here.