According to the United States Constitution, "The Vice
President of the United States shall be President of the Senate but
shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." Other than
being prepared to succeed to the presidency if needed, the vice
president's only constitutional role is to preside over the Senate.
The U.S. Constitution provides for a president pro tempore
to preside over the Senate in the absence of the vice president. The
president pro tem 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.
Both major parties elect a party secretary, a secretary for the
majority and a 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.
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 jurisdiction that includes clerks, curators, and computers;
disbursement of payrolls; acquisition of stationery supplies; education
of the 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 principle administrative manager for most support services. Established in 1789, the Office of Doorkeeper became "Sergeant-at-Arms and Doorkeeper" in 1798.
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.