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President Pro Tempore


John Langdon
Chapter 1: President Pro Tempore
Chapter 2: Constitutional Authority
Chapter 3: Presidential Succession
Chapter 4: Role in the Senate
Chapter 5: Complete List of Presidents Pro Tempore

President Pro Tempore 

The Constitution provides for a president pro tempore to preside over the Senate in the absence of the vice president. Except for the years from 1886 to 1947, the president pro tempore has been included in the presidential line of succession. Following passage of the Presidential Succession Act of 1792, the president pro tempore was next in line after the vice president, and followed by the speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1886 a new law removed the president pro tempore and the speaker from the line of succession, substituting cabinet officers. A 1947 law changed the order of succession to place the Speaker of the House in line after the vice president, followed by the president pro tempore, and then the secretary of state and other cabinet officers in order of their departments' creation. This is the system in effect today.

Before 1890, the Senate elected a president pro tempore only for the period when the vice president would be absent. Since 1890, the president pro tempore has held office continuously until the election of a successor. The president pro tempore designates other senators to preside in his absence, generally new members of the majority party.

Constitutional Authority 

The Constitution provides for two officers to preside over the Senate. The Vice President of the United States is designated as the president of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president was expected to preside at regular sessions of the Senate, casting votes only to break ties. From John Adams in 1789 to Richard Nixon in the 1950s, presiding over the Senate was the chief function of vice presidents, who had an office in the Capitol, received their staff support and office expenses through the legislative appropriations, and rarely were invited to participate in cabinet meetings or other executive activities. In 1961, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson changed the vice presidency by moving his chief office from the Capitol to the White House, by directing his attention to executive functions, and by attending Senate sessions only at critical times when his vote, or ruling from the chair, might be necessary. Vice presidents since Johnson’s time have followed his example.

When we consider that the vice president used to be the Senate's regular presiding officer, we can better understand why the Constitution further provided that in the absence of the vice president the Senate could choose a president pro tempore to perform the duties of the chair. Pro tempore is a Latin term meaning "for the time being"; thus, the occupant of the position was conceived as a temporary presiding officer. Since vice presidents presided routinely in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Senate thought it necessary to choose a president pro tempore only for the limited periods when the vice president might be ill or otherwise absent. As a result, the Senate frequently elected several presidents pro tempore during a single session.

The Constitution is quite unspecific in its definition of the vice president's role as presiding officer, beyond casting tie-breaking votes. John Adams, the first vice president, attempted to influence the Senate’s decisions on legislation during his first term, but eventually came to see the presiding officer as a neutral figure. That role has remained constant since that time. Adams cast more tie-breaking votes (29) than has any vice president who succeeded him. By contrast, during his eight years of service as vice president, George H.W. Bush cast only eight tie-breaking votes, Al Gore broke four ties, and Vice President Dick Cheney voted eight times to break ties. The vice president is not at liberty to address the Senate, except by unanimous consent. Nor should any senator speak while presiding, other than to make necessary rulings and announcements or to maintain order.

Unlike the vice president, the president pro tempore is a duly elected member of the Senate, able to speak and vote on any issue. In the early years, the Senate elected presidents pro tempore on a temporary basis, chosen for their personal characteristics, popularity, and reliability. Since the mid-20th century, it has been traditional for the Senate to elect the senior member of the majority party as president pro tempore.

Presidential Succession 

The importance of the post of president pro tempore can be seen by its placement in the presidential line of succession. According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1792, should the offices of president and vice president both become vacant, the president pro tempore would have succeeded to the presidency, followed by the Speaker of the House. This line of succession remained in effect until 1886. The arrangement created a serious consequence on at least one occasion. When President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, Vice President Andrew Johnson succeeded to the presidency. When Johnson was impeached in 1868, President pro tempore Benjamin Wade of Ohio stood to gain from conviction. Had the Senate voted to convict and remove Johnson from office (it fell one vote short of the necessary 2/3 majority to convict), Senator Wade would have become president of the United States. Senator Wade, it should be noted, cast his vote in favor of conviction, and President Johnson, after his acquittal, objected to placing the president pro tempore in the line of succession because he would therefore be "interested in producing a vacancy."

Vacancies in the office presented a most pressing problem. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Senate assumed that it was empowered to elect a president pro tempore only during the absence of a vice president. What should senators do at the end of a session? Since Congress was customarily out of session for half of each year, what would happen if there were no designated president pro tempore? If the vice president died or became president, who would preside at the opening of the next Senate session? Rather than settle these problems by statute or rules changes, the Senate for decades relied upon an elaborate scheme in which the vice president would voluntarily absent himself from the chamber at the end of the session to enable the Senate to elect a president pro tempore, who would then be available to preside if necessary when the Senate reconvened. Some vice presidents refused to perform this little courtesy.

In 1886 Senator George F. Hoar of Massachusetts expressed concern about the frequency of vacancies in the vice presidency and the office of president pro tempore. He called for a revision of the succession act. "The present arrangement is bad," he told the Senate, because "during a large portion of the term there is no officer in being who can succeed." Senator Hoar argued that the Senate did not elect its presidents pro tempore based on any consideration of their fitness to become chief executive. The president pro tempore was by then a senior senator, chosen "for his capacity as a debater and a framer of legislation." Most likely, the president pro tempore would have "little or no executive experience." Hoar then pointed out that no president pro tempore had ever served as president, and only one had even been a candidate for president. By contrast, six secretaries of state had been elected president. Following Hoar's reasoning, Congress in 1886 passed a new law that removed the president pro tempore and Speaker of the House entirely from the line of presidential succession, leaving at its head the secretary of state and the other cabinet members, all non-elected officials.

This remained the order of succession until 1947, when, at the urging of President Harry S. Truman, the law was again revised. Having served ten years in the Senate, Truman held the post of vice president only eighty-two days before Franklin Roosevelt's death propelled him into the White House. As a student of history and a fervent democrat, Truman was troubled that the next person in the line of succession was his secretary of state, Edward Stettinius. The secretary had never run for elective office. As Truman stated, "it was my feeling that any man who stepped into the presidency should have held at least some office to which he had been elected by a vote of the people." Two months after becoming president, Truman proposed restoring the president pro tempore and Speaker of the House to the line of succession.

An interesting feature of Truman's proposal was its reversal of the earlier order of succession, putting the Speaker of the House ahead of the president pro tempore. There were several reasons for this change. In his memoirs, Truman argued that the House Speaker, as an elected representative of his district, as well as the chosen leader of the "elected representatives of the people," should stand next in line to the vice president. Of course, one could make the same argument for the president pro tempore, as the elected official of the people of his state and of the United States Senate. It is likely that specific personalities also played a role in Truman's thinking.

There may also have been an institutional factor in Truman's reversal of the roles. Between the 1886 removal of the president pro tempore from the order of succession and 1947, some entirely new leadership posts had evolved in the Senate: the majority and minority leaders and the party whips. Beginning in the 1920s, when the Democratic and Republican parties first officially designated floor leaders, a number of influential men had been elected majority leader. By 1945, most Washington observers regarded the majority leader as the Senate's functional equivalent of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, while the president pro tempore had become more of a ceremonial office. Had Truman drawn a list of men, rather than offices, he would certainly have included Majority Leader Alben Barkley in the line of succession—indeed, in 1948, Truman chose Senator Barkley as his vice-presidential running mate. For the purposes of legislation, however, the president recommended inclusion of a constitutionally created officer, the president pro tempore, rather than a party-designated officer, the majority leader. Today, the president pro tempore continues to follow the Speaker of the House in presidential succession, followed in turn by the secretary of state and the other cabinet secretaries in the order of their agencies' creation.


Role in the Senate 

With regard to the president pro tempore's role in the Senate, an even more significant change took place in 1890, when the Senate agreed that, thereafter, presidents pro tempore would be elected not just for the period of the vice president's absence, but would hold the office continuously until the election of another president pro tempore. As a result, since 1890, with a single exception, each president pro tempore has served until he retired, died, or had the misfortune to see his party lose its majority.

The first sentence of Rule I of today's standing rules of the Senate provides that the president pro tempore shall hold the office "during the pleasure of the Senate and until another is elected or his term of office as a Senator expires." The so-called powers of the president pro tempore, which have generally been more responsibilities than powers, have changed a good deal over the past two centuries. Since 1816, presidents pro tempore have received a larger salary than other senators, and, for a period after 1856, they were compensated at the same rate as the vice president. Since March 1969, the salary of the president pro tempore has been the same as that of the majority and minority leaders. For a period in the early 19th century, presidents pro tempore appointed members of the Senate's standing committees, either indirectly or directly. Since 1820, the president pro tempore has had the power to name other senators to perform the duties of the chair in his absence. In modern times, presidents pro tempore have tended to ask new members of the majority party to preside over the Senate, a practice which enables freshmen senators to grow more accustomed to the Senate's rules and procedures.

When the Democratic side is in the majority, the president pro tempore is an ex-officio member of his party's leadership, including the party conference or caucus, the policy committee, and the steering committee, working closely with the majority leader. Under Republican majority, the president pro tempore is an ex-officio member of the Republican Policy Committee. Various laws assign the president pro tempore authority to make appointments to an assortment of national commissions, usually with the advice of the majority leader. If there are minority appointments, the president pro tempore generally acts upon the recommendations of the minority leader in appointing individuals acceptable to the minority. In the absence of the vice president, the president pro tempore may administer all oaths required by the Constitution, may sign legislation, and may fulfill all other obligations of the presiding officer. Unlike the vice president, however, the president pro tempore cannot vote to break a tie vote in the Senate. Also, in the absence of the vice president, the president pro tempore jointly presides with the Speaker of the House when the two houses sit together in joint sessions or joint meetings.

Election of a senator to the office of president pro tempore has always been considered one of the highest honors offered to a senator by the Senate as a body. That honor has been bestowed upon a colorful and significant group of senators during the past two centuries—men who stamped their imprint on the office and on their times.

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Complete List of Presidents Pro Tempore 
Congress Name/State Tenure
1st Congress
(1789 - 1791)
John Langdon (NH) Apr 6, 1789 - Apr 21, 1789;
Aug 7, 1789 - Aug 9, 1789
2nd Congress
(1791 - 1793)
Richard Henry Lee (VA) Apr 18, 1792 - Oct 8, 1792
John Langdon (NH) Nov 5, 1792 - Dec 4, 1792;
Mar 1, 1793 - Mar 3, 1793
3rd Congress
(1793 - 1795)
John Langdon (NH) Mar 4, 1793 - Dec 2, 1793
Ralph Izard (SC) May 31, 1794 - Nov 9, 1794
Henry Tazewell (VA) Feb 20, 1795 - Jun 7, 1795
4th Congress
(1795 - 1797)
Henry Tazewell (VA) Dec 7, 1795 - Dec 8, 1795
Samuel Livermore (NH) May 6, 1796 - Dec 4, 1796
William Bingham (PA) Feb 16, 1797 - Mar 3, 1797
5th Congress
(1797 - 1799)
William Bradford (RI) Jul 6, 1797 - Oct 1797
Jacob Read (SC) Nov 22, 1797 - Dec 12, 1797
Theodore Sedgwick (MA) Jun 27, 1798 - Dec 5, 1798
John Laurance (NY) Dec 6, 1798 - Dec 27, 1798
James Ross (PA) Mar 1, 1799 - Dec 1, 1799
6th Congress
(1799 - 1801)
Samuel Livermore (NH) Dec 2, 1799 - Dec 29, 1799
Uriah Tracy (CT) May 14, 1800 - Nov 16, 1800
John E. Howard (MD) Nov 21, 1800 - Nov 27, 1800
James Hillhouse (CT) Feb 28, 1801 - Mar 3, 1801
7th Congress
(1801 - 1803)
Abraham Baldwin (GA) Dec 7, 1801 - Jan 14, 1802;
Apr 17, 1802 - Dec 13, 1802
Stephen R. Bradley (VT) Dec 14, 1802 - Jan 18, 1803;
Feb 25, 1803 - Feb 25, 1803;
Mar 2, 1803 - Oct 16, 1803
8th Congress
(1803 - 1805)
John Brown (KY) Oct 17, 1803 - Dec 6, 1803;
Jan 23, 1804 - Feb 26, 1804
Jesse Franklin (NC) Mar 10, 1804 - Nov 4, 1804
Joseph Anderson (TN) Jan 15, 1805 - Feb 3, 1805;
Feb 28, 1805 - Mar 2, 1805;
Mar 2, 1805 - Dec 1, 1805
9th Congress
(1805 - 1807)
Samuel Smith (MD) Dec 2, 1805 - Dec 15, 1805;
Mar 18, 1806 - Nov 30, 1806;
Mar 2, 1807 - Oct 25, 1807
10th Congress
(1807 - 1809)
Samuel Smith (MD) Apr 16, 1808 - Nov 6, 1808
Stephen R. Bradley (VT) Dec 28, 1808 - Jan 8, 1809
John Milledge (GA) Jan 30, 1809 - Mar 3, 1809
11th Congress
(1809 - 1811)
John Milledge (GA) Mar 4, 1809 - May 21, 1809
Andrew Gregg (PA) Jun 26, 1809 - Dec 18, 1809
John Gaillard (SC) Feb 28, 1810 - Mar 2, 1810;
Apr 17, 1810 - Dec 11, 1810
John Pope (KY) Feb 23, 1811 - Nov 3, 1811
12th Congress
(1811 - 1813)
William Crawford (GA) Mar 24, 1812 - Mar 23, 1813
13th Congress
(1813 - 1815)
Joseph B. Varnum (MA) Dec 6, 1813 - Feb 3, 1814
John Gaillard (SC)1 Apr 18, 1814 - Nov 25, 1814;
Nov 25, 1814 - Dec 3, 1815
14th Congress
(1815 - 1817)
John Gaillard (SC) Dec 4, 1815 - Mar 3, 1817
15th Congress
(1817 - 1819)
John Gaillard (SC) Mar 4, 1817 - Mar 4, 1817;
Mar 6, 1817 - Feb 18, 1818;
Mar 31, 1818 - Jan 5, 1819
James Barbour (VA) Feb 15, 1819 - Dec 5, 1819
16th Congress
(1819 - 1821)
James Barbour (VA) Dec 6, 1819 - Dec 26, 1819
John Gaillard (SC) Jan 25, 1820 - Dec 2, 1821
17th Congress
(1821 - 1823)
John Gaillard (SC) Dec 3, 1821 - Dec 27, 1821;
Feb 1, 1822 - Dec 2, 1822;
Feb 19, 1823 - Nov 30, 1823
18th Congress
(1823 - 1825)
John Gaillard (SC) Dec 1, 1823 - Jan 20, 1824;
May 21, 1824 - Mar 3, 1825
19th Congress
(1825 - 1827)
John Gaillard (SC) Mar 9, 1825 - Dec 4, 1825
Nathaniel Macon (NC) May 20, 1826 - Dec 3, 1826;
Jan 2, 1827 - Feb 13, 1827;
Mar 2, 1827 - Dec 2, 1827
20th Congress
(1827 - 1829)
Samuel Smith (MD) May 15, 1828 - Dec 18, 1828
21st Congress
(1829 - 1831)
Samuel Smith (MD) Mar 13, 1829 - Dec 10, 1829;
May 29, 1830 - Dec 31, 1830;
Mar 1, 1831 - Dec 4, 1831
22nd Congress
(1831 - 1833)
Samuel Smith (MD) Dec 5, 1831 - Dec 11, 1831
Littleton Tazewell (VA) Jul 9, 1832 - Jul 16, 1832
Hugh L. White (TN) Dec 3, 1832 - Dec 1, 1833
23rd Congress
(1833 - 1835)
Hugh L. White (TN) Dec 2, 1833 - Dec 15, 1833
George Poindexter (MS) Jun 28, 1834 - Nov 30, 1834
John Tyler (VA) Mar 3, 1835 - Dec 6, 1835
24th Congress
(1835 - 1837)
William R. King (AL) Jul 1, 1836 - Dec 4, 1836;
Jan 28, 1837 - Mar 3, 1837
25th Congress
(1837 - 1839)
William R. King (AL) Mar 7, 1837 - Sep 3, 1837;
Oct 13, 1837 - Dec 3, 1837;
Jul 2, 1838 - Dec 18, 1838;
Feb 25, 1839 - Dec 1, 1839
26th Congress
(1839 - 1841)
William R. King (AL) Dec 2, 1839 - Dec 26, 1839;
Jul 3, 1840 - Dec 15, 1840;
Mar 3, 1841 - Mar 3, 1841
27th Congress
(1841 - 1843)
William R. King (AL) Mar 4, 1841 - Mar 4, 1841
Samuel Southard (NJ) Mar 11, 1841 - May 31, 1842
Willie P. Mangum (NC) May 31, 1842 - Dec 3, 1843
28th Congress
(1843 - 1845)
Willie P. Mangum (NC) Dec 4, 1843 - Mar 3, 1845
29th Congress
(1845 - 1847)
Willie P. Mangum (NC) Mar 4, 1845 - Mar 4, 1845
Ambrose H. Sevier (AR)2 Dec 27, 1845 - Dec 27, 1845
David R. Atchison (MO) Aug 8, 1846 - Dec 6, 1846;
Jan 11, 1847 - Jan 13, 1847;
March 3, 1847 - Dec 5, 1847
30th Congress
(1847 - 1849)
David R. Atchison (MO) Feb 2, 1848 - Feb 8, 1848;
Jun 1, 1848 - Jun 14, 1848;
Jun 26, 1848 - Jun 29, 1848;
Jul 29, 1848 - Dec 4, 1848;
Dec 26, 1848 - Jan 1, 1849;
Mar 2, 1840 - Mar 4, 1849
31st Congress
(1849 - 1851)
David R. Atchison (MO) Mar 5, 1849 - Mar 5, 1849;
Mar 16, 1849 - Dec 2, 1849
William R. King (AL) May 6, 1850 - May 19, 1850;
Jul 11, 1850 - Mar 3, 1851
32nd Congress
(1851 - 1853)
William R. King (AL) Mar 4, 1851 - Dec 20, 1852
David R. Atchison (MO) Dec 20, 1852 - Mar 3, 1853
33rd Congress
(1853-1855)
David R. Atchison (MO) Mar 4, 1853 - Dec 4, 1854
Lewis Cass (MI) Dec 4, 1854 - Dec 4, 1854
Jesse D. Bright (IN) Dec 5, 1854 - Dec 2, 1855
34th Congress
(1855 - 1857)
Jesse D. Bright (IN) Dec 3, 1855 - Jun 9, 1856
Charles E. Stuart (MI) Jun 9, 1856 - Jun 10, 1856
Jesse D. Bright (IN) Jun 11, 1856 - Jan 6, 1857
James M. Mason (VA) Jan 6, 1857 - Mar 3, 1857
35th Congress
(1857 - 1859)
James M. Mason (VA) Mar 4, 1857 - Mar 4, 1857
Thomas J. Rusk (TX) Mar 14, 1857 - Jul 29, 1857
Benjamin Fitzpatrick (AL) Dec 7, 1857 - Dec 20, 1857;
Mar 29, 1858 - May 2, 1858;
Jun 14, 1858 - Dec 5, 1858;
Jan 19, 1859 - Jan 19, 1859;
Jan 25, 1859 - Feb 9, 1859
36th Congress
(1859 - 1861)
Benjamin Fitzpatrick (AL) Mar 9, 1859 - Dec 4, 1859;
Dec 19, 1859 - Jan 15, 1860;
Feb 20, 1860 - Feb 26, 1860
Jesse D. Bright (IN) Jun 12, 1860 - Jun 13, 1860
Benjamin Fitzpatrick (AL) Jun 26, 1860 - Dec 2, 1860
Solomon Foot (VT) Feb 16, 1861 - Feb 17, 1861
37th Congress
(1861 - 1863)
Solomon Foot (VT) Mar 23, 1861 - Jul 3, 1861;
Jul 18, 1861 - Dec 1, 1861;
Jan 15, 1862 - Jan 15, 1862;
Mar 31, 1862 - May 21, 1862;
Jun 19, 1862 - Dec 12, 1862;
Feb 18, 1863 - Mar 3, 1863
38th Congress
(1863 - 1865)
Solomon Foot (VT) Mar 4, 1863 - Dec 6, 1863;
Dec 18, 1863 - Dec 20, 1863;
Feb 23, 1864 - Feb 23, 1864;
Mar 11, 1864 - Mar 13, 1864;
Apr 11, 1864 - Apr 13, 1864
Daniel Clark (NH) Apr 26, 1864 - Jan 4, 1865;
Feb 9, 1865 - Feb 19, 1865
39th Congress
(1865 - 1867)
Lafayette S. Foster (CT) Mar 7, 1865 - Mar 2, 1867
Benjamin F. Wade (OH) Mar 2, 1867 - Mar 3, 1867
40th Congress
(1867 - 1869)
Benjamin F. Wade (OH) Mar 4, 1867 - Mar 3, 1869
41st Congress
(1869 - 1871)
Henry B. Anthony (RI) Mar 23, 1869 - Mar 28, 1869;
Apr 9, 1869 - Dec 5, 1869;
May 28, 1870 - Jun 2, 1870;
Jul 1, 1870 - July 5, 1870;
Jul 14, 1870 - Dec 4, 1870
42nd Congress
(1871 - 1873)
Henry B. Anthony (RI) Mar 10, 1871 - Mar 12, 1871;
Apr 17, 1871 - May 9, 1871;
May 23, 1871 - Dec 3, 1871;
Dec 21, 1871 - Jan 7, 1872;
Feb 23, 1872 - Feb 25, 1872;
Jun 8, 1872 - Dec 1, 1872;
Dec 4, 1872 - Dec 8, 1872;
Dec 13, 1872 - Dec 15, 1872;
Dec 20, 1872 - Jan 5, 1873;
Jan 24, 1873 - Jan 24, 1873
43rd Congress
(1873 - 1875)
Matthew H. Carpenter (WI) Mar 12, 1873 - Mar 13, 1873;
Mar 26, 1873 - Nov 30, 1873;
Dec 11, 1873 - Dec 6, 1874;
Dec 23, 1874 - Jan 4, 1875
Henry B. Anthony (RI) Jan 25, 1875 - Jan 31, 1875;
Feb 15, 1875 - Feb 17, 1875
44th Congress
(1875 - 1877)
Thomas W. Ferry (MI) Mar 9, 1875 - Mar 10, 1875;
Mar 19, 1875 - Dec 20, 1875;
Dec 20, 1875 - Mar 4, 1877
45th Congress
(1877 - 1879)
Thomas W. Ferry (MI) Mar 5, 1877 - Mar 5, 1877;
Feb 26, 1878 - Mar 3, 1878;
Apr 17, 1878 - Dec 1, 1878;
Mar 3, 1879 - Mar 17, 1879
46th Congress
(1879 - 1881)
Allen G. Thurman (OH) Apr 15, 1879 - Nov 30, 1879;
Apr 7, 1880 - Apr 14, 1880;
May 6, 1880 - Dec 5, 1880
47th Congress
(1881 - 1883)
Thomas F. Bayard (DE) Oct 10, 1881 - Oct 13, 1881
David Davis (IL) Oct 13, 1881 - Mar 3, 1883
George F. Edmunds (VT) Mar 3, 1883 - Dec 2, 1883
48th Congress
(1883 - 1885)
George F. Edmunds (VT) Dec 3, 1883 - Jan 14, 1884;
Jan 14, 1884 - Mar 3, 1885
49th Congress
(1885 - 1887)
John Sherman (OH) Dec 7, 1885 - Feb 26, 1887
John J. Ingalls (KS) Feb 26, 1887 - Dec 4, 1887
50th Congress
(1887 - 1889)
John J. Ingalls (KS) Dec 5, 1887 - Mar 3, 1889
51st Congress
(1889 - 1891)3
John J. Ingalls (KS) Mar 7, 1889 - Mar 17, 1889;
Apr 2, 1889 - Dec 1, 1889;
Dec 5, 1889 - Dec 10, 1889;
Feb 28, 1890 - Mar 18, 1890;
Apr 3, 1890 - Mar 2, 1891
Charles F. Manderson (NE) Mar 2, 1891 - Dec 6, 1891
52nd Congress
(1891 - 1893)
Charles F. Manderson (NE) Dec 7, 1891 - Mar 3, 1893
53rd Congress
(1893 - 1895)
Charles F. Manderson (NE) Mar 4, 1893 - Mar 22, 1893
Isham G. Harris (TN) Mar 22, 1893 - Jan 7, 1895
Matt W. Ransom (NC) Jan 7, 1895 - Jan 10, 1895
Isham G. Harris (TN) Jan 10, 1895 - Mar 3, 1895
54th Congress
(1895 - 1897)
William P. Frye (ME) Feb 7, 1896 - Mar 3, 1897
55th Congress
(1897 - 1899)
William P. Frye (ME) Mar 4, 1897 - Dec 3, 1899
56th Congress
(1899 - 1901)
William P. Frye (ME) Dec 4, 1899 - Mar 3, 1901
57th Congress
(1901 - 1903)
William P. Frye (ME) Mar 7, 1901 - Mar 4, 1903
58th Congress
(1903 - 1905)
William P. Frye (ME) Mar 5, 1903 - Mar 3, 1905
59th Congress
(1905 - 1907)
William P. Frye (ME) Mar 4, 1905 - Mar 3, 1907
60th Congress
(1907 - 1909)
William P. Frye (ME) Dec 5, 1907 - Mar 3, 1909
61st Congress
(1909 - 1911)
William P. Frye (ME) Mar 4, 1909 - Apr 3, 1911
62nd Congress
(1911 - 1913)4
William P. Frye (ME) Apr 4, 1911 - Apr 27, 1911
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) Aug 14, 1911 - Aug 14, 1911
Charles Curtis (KS) Dec 4, 1911 - Dec 12, 1911
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) Jan 15, 1912 - Jan 17, 1912
Jacob H. Gallinger (NH) Feb 12, 1912 - Feb 14, 1912
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) Mar 11, 1912 - Mar 12, 1912
Frank B. Brandegee (CT) Mar 25, 1912 - Mar 26, 1912
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) Apr 8, 1912 - Apr 8, 1912
Jacob H. Gallinger (NH) Apr 26, 1912 - Apr 27, 1912;
May 7, 1912 - May 7, 1912
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) May 10, 1912 - May 10, 1912
Henry Cabot Lodge (MA) May 25, 1912 - May 25, 1912
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) May 30, 1912 - Jun 3, 1912;
Jun 13, 1912 - Jul 5, 1912
Jacob H. Gallinger (NH) Jul 6, 1912 - Jul 31, 1912
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) Aug 1, 1912 - Aug 10, 1912
Jacob H. Gallinger (NH) Aug 12, 1912 - Aug 26, 1912
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) Aug 27, 1912 - Dec 15, 1912
Jacob H. Gallinger (NH) Dec 16, 1912 - Jan 4, 1913
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) Jan 5, 1913 - Jan 18, 1913
Jacob H. Gallinger (NH) Jan 19, 1913 - Feb 1, 1913
Augustus O. Bacon (GA) Feb 2, 1913 - Feb 15, 1913
Jacob H. Gallinger (NH) Feb 16, 1913 - Mar 3, 1913
63rd Congress
(1913-1915)
James P. Clarke (AR) Mar 13, 1913 - Mar 3, 1915
64th Congress
(1915 - 1917)
James P. Clarke (AR) Dec 6, 1915 - Oct 1, 1916
Willard Saulsbury (DE) Dec 14, 1916 - Mar 4, 1917
65th Congress
(1917 - 1919)
Willard Saulsbury (DE) Mar 5, 1917 - Mar 3, 1919
66th Congress
(1919 - 1921)
Albert B. Cummins (IA) May 19, 1919 - Mar 3, 1921
67th Congress
(1921 - 1923)
Albert B. Cummins (IA) Mar 7, 1921 - Dec 2, 1923
68th Congress
(1923 - 1925)
Albert B. Cummins (IA) Dec 3, 1923 - Mar 3, 1925
69th Congress
(1925 - 1927)
Albert B. Cummins (IA) Mar 4, 1925 - Mar 6, 1925
George H. Moses (NH) Mar 6, 1925 - Mar 4, 1927
70th Congress
(1927 - 1928)
George H. Moses (NH) Dec 15, 1927 - Mar 3, 1929
71st Congress
(1929 - 1931)
George H. Moses (NH) Mar 4, 1929 - Dec 6, 1931
72nd Congress
(1931 - 1933)
George H. Moses (NH) Dec 7, 1931 - Mar 3, 1933
73rd Congress
(1933 - 1935)
Key Pittman (NV) Mar 9, 1933 - Jan 2, 1935
74th Congress
(1935 - 1937)
Key Pittman (NV) Jan 7, 1935 - Jan 4, 1937
75th Congress
(1937 - 1939)
Key Pittman (NV) Jan 5, 1937 - Jan 2, 1939
76th Congress
(1939 - 1941)
Key Pittman (NV) Jan 3, 1939 - Nov 10, 1940
William H. King (UT) Nov 19, 1940 - Jan 3, 1941
77th Congress
(1941 - 1943)
Pat Harrison (MS) Jan 6, 1941 - Jun 22, 1941
Carter Glass (VA) Jul 10, 1941 - Jan 5, 1943
78th Congress
(1943 - 1945)
Carter Glass (VA) Jan 14, 1943 - Jan 2, 1945
79th Congress
(1945 - 1947)
Kenneth McKellar (TN) Jan 6, 1945 - Jan 2, 1947
80th Congress
(1947 - 1949)
Arthur H. Vandenberg (MI) Jan 4, 1947 - Jan 2, 1949
81st Congress
(1949 - 1951)
Kenneth McKellar (TN) Jan 3, 1949 - Jan 2, 1951
82nd Congress
(1951 - 1953)
Kenneth McKellar (TN) Jan 3, 1951 - Jan 2, 1953
83rd Congress
(1953 - 1955)
Styles Bridges (NH) Jan 3, 1953 - Jan 4, 1955
84th Congress
(1955 - 1957)
Walter F. George (GA) Jan 5, 1955 - Jan 2, 1957
85th Congress
(1957 - 1959)
Carl T. Hayden (AZ) Jan 3, 1957 - Jan 6, 1959
86th Congress
(1959 - 1961)
Carl T. Hayden (AZ) Jan 7, 1959 - Jan 2, 1961
87th Congress
(1961 - 1963)
Carl T. Hayden (AZ) Jan 3, 1961 - Jan 8, 1963
88th Congress
(1963 - 1965)
Carl T. Hayden (AZ) Jan 9, 1963 - Jan 3, 1965
89th Congress
(1965 - 1967)
Carl T. Hayden (AZ) Jan 4, 1965 - Jan 9, 1967
90th Congress
(1967 - 1969)
Carl T. Hayden (AZ) Jan 10, 1967 - Jan 2, 1969
91st Congress
(1969 - 1971)
Richard B. Russell (GA) Jan 3, 1969 - Jan 20, 1971
92nd Congress
(1971 - 1973)
Richard B. Russell (GA) Jan 21, 1971 - Jan 21, 1971
Allen J. Ellender (LA) Jan 22, 1971 - Jul 27, 1972
James O. Eastland (MS) Jul 28, 1972 - Jan 2, 1973
93rd Congress
(1973 - 1975)
James O. Eastland (MS) Jan 3, 1973 - Jan 13, 1975
94th Congress
(1975 - 1977)
James O. Eastland (MS) Jan 14, 1975 - Jan 3, 1977
95th Congress
(1977 - 1979)
James O. Eastland (MS) Jan 4, 1977 - Dec 27, 1978
96th Congress
(1979 - 1981)
Warren G. Magnuson (WA) Jan 15, 1979 - Dec 4, 1980
Milton R. Young (ND) Dec 5, 1980 - Dec 5, 1980
Warren G. Magnuson (WA) Dec 6, 1980 - Jan 4, 1981
97th Congress
(1981 - 1983)
Strom Thurmond (SC) Jan 5, 1981 - Jan 2, 1983
98th Congress
(1983 - 1985)
Strom Thurmond (SC) Jan 3, 1983 - Jan 2, 1985
99th Congress
(1985 - 1987)
Strom Thurmond (SC) Jan 3, 1985 - Jan 5, 1987
100th Congress
(1987 - 1989)
John C. Stennis (MS) Jan 6, 1987 - Jan 2, 1989
101st Congress
(1989 - 1991)
Robert C. Byrd (WV) Jan 3, 1989 - Jan 2, 1991
102nd Congress
(1991 - 1993)
Robert C. Byrd (WV) Jan 3, 1991 - Jan 4, 1993
103rd Congress
(1993 - 1995)
Robert C. Byrd (WV) Jan 5, 1993 - Jan 3, 1995
104th Congress
(1995 - 1997)
Strom Thurmond (SC) Jan 4, 1995 - Jan 6, 1997
105th Congress
(1997 - 1999)
Strom Thurmond (SC) Jan 7, 1997 - Jan 6, 1999
106th Congress
(1999 - 2001)
Strom Thurmond (SC) Jan 7, 1999 - Jan 3, 2001
107th Congress
(2001 - 2003)5
Robert C. Byrd (WV) Jan 3, 2001 - Jan 20, 2001
Strom Thurmond (SC) Jan 20, 2001 - Jun 6, 2001
Robert C. Byrd (WV) Jun 6, 2001 - Jan 3, 2003
108th Congress
(2003 - 2005)
Theodore (Ted) Stevens (AK) Jan 3, 2003 - Jan 3, 2005
109th Congress
(2005 - 2007)
Theodore (Ted) Stevens (AK) Jan 4, 2005 - Jan 4, 2007
110th Congress
(2007 - 2009)
Robert C. Byrd (WV) Jan 4, 2007 - Jan 3, 2009
111th Congress
(2009 - 2011)
Robert C. Byrd (WV) Jan 3, 2009-Jun 28, 2010
Daniel K. Inouye (HI) Jun 28, 2010-Jan 5, 2011
112th Congress
(2011 - 2013)
Daniel K. Inouye (HI) Jan 5, 2011-Dec 17, 2012
Patrick J. Leahy (VT) Dec 17, 2012-Jan 3, 2013
113th Congress
(2013 - 2015)
Patrick J. Leahy (VT) Jan 3, 2013-Jan 6, 2015
114th Congress
(2015 - 2017)
Orrin Hatch (UT) Jan 6, 2015-Jan 3, 2017
115th Congress
(2017 - 2019)
Orrin Hatch (UT) Jan 3, 2017-

1 Gaillard was elected after the death of Vice President Elbridge Gerry and continued to serve throughout the Fourteenth Congress, as there was no vice president.

2 Ambrose H. Sevier was not elected as president pro tempore in an official manner, but "permitted to occupy the chair for the day."

3 In March, 1890, the Senate adopted a resolution stating that presidents pro tempore would hold office continuously until the election of another president pro tempore, rather than being elected for the period in which the vice president was absent. With the exception of the unusual case of the 62nd Congress, this new system has continued to the present.

4 William Frye resigned as president pro tempore due to ill health and died on August 8, 1911. Electing his successor proved difficult for the Senate, since Senate Republicans, then in the majority, split between the progressive and the conservative factions, each promoting its own candidate. Likewise, the Democrats proposed their own candidate. As a result of this three-way split, no individual received a majority vote. During May and June of 1911, ballot after ballot failed to elect a president pro tempore. Finally, desperate to return to regular business, senators agreed to a compromised solution: Democrat Augustus Bacon would serve for a single day, August 14, 1911, during the vice president's absence. Thereafter, Bacon and four Republicans--Charles Curtis, Jacob Gallinger, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Frank Brandegee--would alternate as president pro tempore for the remainder of the 62nd Congress.

5 From January 3 to January 20, 2001 the Democrats held the majority, due to the deciding vote of outgoing Democratic Vice President Al Gore. Senator Robert C. Byrd became the president pro tempore at that time. Starting January 20, 2001, the incoming Republican Vice President Richard Cheney held the deciding vote, giving the majority to the Republicans. Senator Strom Thurmond resumed his role as president pro tempore. On May 24, 2001, Senator James Jeffords of Vermont announced his switch from Republican to Independent status, effective June 6, 2001. Jeffords announced that he would caucus with the Democrats, changing control of the evenly divided Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats. On June 6, 2001, Robert C. Byrd once again became the president pro tempore. On that day, the Senate adopted S. Res. 103, designating Senator Thurmond as President Pro Tempore Emeritus.