President pro tempore of the United States Senate

President pro tempore of the United States Senate
President Pro Tempore US Senate Seal.svg
Seal of the President pro tempore
Chuck Grassley official photo 2017.jpg
Charles Grassley

since January 3, 2019
United States Senate
StyleMr. President
(Informal and within the Senate)
The Honorable
StatusDeputy presiding officer
SeatUnited States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
AppointerUnited States Senate
Term lengthAt the pleasure of the Senate, and until another is elected or their term of office as a Senator expires
Constituting instrumentUnited States Constitution
FormationMarch 4, 1789
First holderJohn Langdon
April 6, 1789
DeputyAny senator, typically a member of the majority party, designated by the President pro tempore

The President pro tempore of the United States Senate (often shortened to president pro tem) is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. Article One, Section Three of the United States Constitution provides that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate (despite not being a Senator), and mandates that the Senate must choose a President pro tempore to act in the Vice President's absence. Unlike the Vice President, the President pro tempore is an elected member of the Senate, able to speak or vote on any issue. Selected by the Senate at large, the President pro tempore has enjoyed many privileges and some limited powers.[2] During the Vice President's absence, the President pro tempore is empowered to preside over Senate sessions. In practice, neither the Vice President nor the President pro tempore usually presides; instead, the duty of presiding officer is rotated among junior U.S. Senators of the majority party to give them experience in parliamentary procedure.[3]

Since 1890, the most senior U.S. Senator in the majority party has generally been chosen to be President pro tempore and holds the office continuously until the election of another. This tradition has been observed without interruption since 1949.[4] Since enactment of the current Presidential Succession Act in 1947, the president pro tempore is third in the line of succession to the presidency, after the vice president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and ahead of the Secretary of State.[5]

The current President pro tempore of the Senate is Iowa Republican Charles Grassley. Elected on January 3, 2019, he is the 91st person to serve in this office.[6]

Power and responsibilities

Although the position is in some ways analogous to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the powers of the president pro tempore are far more limited. In the Senate, most power rests with party leaders and individual senators, but as the chamber's presiding officer, the president pro tempore is authorized to perform certain duties in the absence of the vice president, including ruling on points of order.[7] Additionally, under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the president pro tempore and the speaker are the two authorities to whom declarations must be transmitted that the president is unable to perform the duties of the office, or is able to resume doing so. The president pro tempore is third in the line of presidential succession, following the vice president and the speaker.[7] Additional duties include appointment of various congressional officers, certain commissions, advisory boards, and committees and joint supervision of the congressional page school.[7] The president pro tempore is the designated legal recipient of various reports to the Senate, including War Powers Act reports under which he or she, jointly with the speaker, may have the president call Congress back into session. The officeholder is an ex officio member of various boards and commissions. With the secretary and sergeant at arms, the president pro tempore maintains order in Senate portions of the Capitol and Senate buildings.[7][8]

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