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Traditions & Symbols

The U.S. Senate relies heavily on tradition and precedent. Many of its current rules, procedures, and traditions date from the First Congress in 1789.

Becoming a Senator and Organizing a New Congress

Organizing a New Congress

Orientation Programs
The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the Senate Floor (CRS) (PDF)
Congress' Early Organizational Meetings (CRS) (PDF)
Article 1, Section 3 Constitutional authority for dividing Senate into three classes.
Amendment XX, Section 2 Constitutional Authority noting January 3rd as the opening day of a new Congress.
Committee Assignment Process in the US Senate (CRS) (PDF)
Rule XXIV Standard Rules of the Senate: Committee Assignment

Oath Taking

Oath of Office
The Oath Act May 5, 1789
Senator Resigns to Protest Loyalty Oath January 29, 1864
Laws and Rules
Rule III Standing Rules of the Senate: Taking the Oath
Article 6 Constitutional directive to take the Oath

Members' Order-of-Service

Chronological List of All Senators (PDF)

On the Senate Floor


Senators (current)




Officers and Staff

Symbols on the Senate Floor

Interactive Desk Exhibit
Golden Gavel Award
Senate Gavels
The Senate's New Gavel November 17, 1954

Senate Floor Proceedings

Start of Each Day's Session
Senate Standing Rules
Rules and Procedure
Honoring Distinguished Visitors


Seersucker Thursday
Senate Bean Soup
Naming of Buildings and Rooms
Vice-Presidential Busts
Senate Reception Room's "Famous Five" Now the "Famous Nine"
Washington's Farewell Address February 22, 1862
End-of-Session Valedictories and Eulogies
Funerals and Memorial Services


Eagle and Shield
Senate Flag
Senate Seal
Senate Seal, Mar 31, 1885
Senate Snuff Boxes
Snuff Box Cat. no. 93.00029.000
Snuff Box Cat no. 93.00028.000

Related Publications

   Traditions of the United States Senate (PDF)

Related Links

   Art in the Senate |    History