United States Senate

The disqualifies as senators any federal or state officers who had taken the requisite oath to support the Constitution but who later engaged in rebellion or aided the enemies of the United States. This provision, which came into force soon after the end of the Civil War, was intended to prevent those who had sided with the Confederacy from serving. That Amendment, however, also provides a method to remove that disqualification: a two-thirds vote of both chambers of Congress.

The Seventeenth Amendment permits state legislatures to empower their governors to make temporary appointments until the required special election takes place.

Holds can be overcome, but require time-consuming procedures such as filing cloture. Holds are considered private communications between a senator and the leader, and are sometimes referred to as "secret holds". A senator may disclose the placement of a hold.

Apart from rules governing civility, there are few restrictions on the content of speeches; there is no requirement that speeches pertain to the matter before the Senate.

The rules of the Senate provide that no senator may make more than two speeches on a motion or bill on the same legislative day. A legislative day begins when the Senate convenes and ends with adjournment; hence, it does not necessarily coincide with the calendar day. The length of these speeches is not limited by the rules; thus, in most cases, senators may speak for as long as they please. Often, the Senate adopts unanimous consent agreements imposing time limits. In other cases (for example, for the budget process), limits are imposed by statute. However, the right to unlimited debate is generally preserved.

The vote was 58–39 in favor of the provision establishing concealed carry permit reciprocity in the 48 states that have concealed weapons laws. That fell two votes short of the 60 needed to approve the measure

The Senate uses committees (and their subcommittees) for a variety of purposes, including the review of bills and the oversight of the executive branch. Formally, the whole Senate appoints committee members. In practice, however, the choice of members is made by the political parties. Generally, each party honors the preferences of individual senators, giving priority based on seniority. Each party is allocated seats on committees in proportion to its overall strength.

Although the Constitution gave the House the power to initiate revenue bills, in practice the Senate is equal to the House in the respect of spending. As Woodrow Wilson wrote:

The approval of both houses is required for any bill, including a revenue bill, to become law. Both Houses must pass the same version of the bill; if there are differences, they may be resolved by sending amendments back and forth or by a conference committee, which includes members of both bodies.

The Constitution provides several unique functions for the Senate that form its ability to "check and balance" the powers of other elements of the federal government. These include the requirement that the Senate may advise and must consent to some of the president's government appointments; also the Senate must consent to all treaties with foreign governments; it tries all impeachments, and it elects the vice president in the event no person gets a majority of the electoral votes.