Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Responsibility that is the office of the United States Senate

Recently I was accused of not understanding the responsibility that is the office of the United States Senate. This is actually kind of a new one, since I have been accused of just about everything under the sun since this whole thing began, so I thought that I would share the basics with you. But be aware that there is a great deal more that I will go into as we go along.

Most people in the United States know senators represent them in the federal government, but some don't know exactly what senators do. They have many important responsibilities, and understanding what senators do helps in understanding the way government works in the United States.

Shared Duties

1. The Senate and the House of Representatives share several functions. Both regulate interstate commerce, interstate communication, interstate transportation, the U.S. Mint, and the supply of money. Both also create courts and declare war on foreign countries.

Making Laws

2. The primary function of both the House of Representatives and the Senate is to make laws. This is a complex process that senators are intricately involved with. Often senators sponsor a bill and see the process from drafting to becoming a law. First the bill is drafted, and then a senator introduces it. Then the bill is referred to a committee for review. After the committee has reviewed the bill, it is debated in the Senate, and senators propose amendments. Then the Senate votes on the bill and approved amendments. If the bill passes, it is sent to the House of Representatives. If the House of Representatives pass the bill, it is returned to the Senate. If the House of Representatives do not change the bill, the Senate signs the bill and delivers it to the White House. Then the President either signs the bill to make it a law, or vetoes it.

Representation

3. Another important part of a senator's job is representing his or her state in national issues. Most senators spend a good amount of time talking to the residents of their home state about issues of importance to them. Senators also act as go-betweens for people in their state who have problems with the federal government.

Impeachment

4. The Senate holds all impeachment hearings for government officials. In impeachment hearings, the Senate Chamber is used as a courtroom, and a committee of representatives acts as the prosecutor. If two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict the official, he or she is removed from office.

Treaties

5. The Senate also approves the executive branch's treaties. Though the Senate has not rejected many treaties in its history, many treaties died while they were being debated, and others were withdrawn to avoid being defeated. To make Senate negotiations easier, some presidents have brought senators with them to treaty negotiations.

While these are some of the basic duties of a United States Senator there is a great deal more that he or she are responsible for;

1. A senator’s first and foremost responsibility is to listen to the needs and desires of his constituents, bearing in mind that any law, bill, or regulation he or she passes effects not only the constituents of his or her state, but the entire population of the United States. What may be one man’s cup of Tea as it were may be another’s cup of poison. By following the Constitution of the United States and seeking Constitutional validation for whatever bill or law, and even regulation he or she seeks to pass, the Senator can never go wrong. Provided of course this is what the constituency of his or her state wants.

2. Even though the Senator is responsible for the running of the nation, he has a responsibility to his State and its welfare. He or she must weigh his vote against the needs and desires of his constituents as they are expressed to him or her.

3. While the Senator has the added responsibility of voting his or her conscience, his or her conscience must be guided by his duties and responsibilities to the state as well as the nation.

4. The Senator’s first duty after his or her sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States is to the protection of his or her state and it’s Constitution , the state’s rights under the Constitution, and against government interference in contravention of the Constitution.

5. The Senator also bears the responsibility of consulting with the governor and the legislation of his state on all matters that affect the state and its wellbeing.

6. To provide the Governor and legislature the tools it needs to govern properly the people of the state and see to their economic wellbeing.

While it may seem to some that you cannot have one without the other, it is apparent that many elected to office tend for forget the later responsibilities once in office. And while it may at times be difficult it is not impossible to remember that both are attainable and achievable.