The United States Senate is led by the Vice President of the United States and acts as the presiding officer to this chamber of Congress. The Vice President is known as the ex officio President of the Senate and charged with the duty of presiding over Senate proceedings. However, the President of the Senate does not have much power or authority granted to the position itself.
Even though the President of the Senate can participate in actual Senate debates, it has been very rarely done since the 1950s. The power of the Senate truly lies in the party leaders, for they actually control the procedures.
Party leaders are divided into the Majority Party Leader and the Minority Party Leader. As their titles would infer, the respective parties, Republican and Democrat, would elect members of their party to act as leaders and the chief spokespeople for their parties.
The Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate are responsible for managing all of the legislative occurrences of the chamber. They are also responsible to schedule all such activities as well. The election of party leaders dates back to 1920 when the Democrats instituted the practice.
The United States Constitution also appoints a President pro tempore, which acts as the President of the Senate in the case that the Vice President is absent. Typically, the person that is appointed to this position will typically be the most senior senator, which is the member who has served the longest in the Senate. However, the President pro tempore does not have much more authority, similar to that of the actual President of the Senate.
In actuality, the responsibility of presiding over the daily procedures of the Senate is delegated to junior Senators of the Majority Party. Therefore, the Majority Party Leader is the managing member of the Senate.
Other offices are also elected in the Senate, such as whips. Senate Majority and Minority Whips are considered to be the second-ranking members of the United States Senate, and the party elects their own to represent their agenda and affiliation. The main purpose of the Majority and Minority Whips is to ensure that their respective parties are to vote with the general concurrency of the party leaders.
The Senate also provides for other officers that are not members of the actual chamber of Congress. These officers have specific tasks appointed to them that help with the general efficiency and function of the Senate. The Secretary of the Senate is in charge of all of the public records, as well as the disbursing of salaries. An Assistant Secretary of the Senate is appointed to help the Secretary.
A Sergeant of Arms is also appointed to the Senate, who acts as the chief law enforcement officers of the chamber. The Sergeant at Arms is responsible for maintaining order in the Senate, as well as managing all of the security on the Senate premises. Other officers include Chaplains and Pages. The Chaplain is appointed through a majority vote by the Senate and opens each session with a prayer. Pages are appointed to the Senate and are federal employees that do not have a particular party affiliation.