What Does a Senator Do?

Senators pass laws as part of the legislative branch. Senators serve as representatives of their state in the federal government. They also provide assistance to their constituents in navigating federal agencies.

The Senate votes on presidential appointments, such as cabinet members and federal judges. International treaties require a majority vote by Senators, and the House ratifies only treaties that involve international trade. Senators preside over impeachment cases of federal officials. They serve on full standing committees and subcommittees regarding a specific area of legislation. They work within the committee to screen, research and vote on legislation before it reaches the full chamber. Some Senators serve as committee chairs with extra duties, such as calling for a vote and holding others accountable to parliamentary procedure. When Senators sponsor a bill, they also present it to committees for a vote. Members of Senate committees hold hearings for nominees and investigate problems relating to the federal government. When an issue affects both the House and the Senate, a joint committee is formed.

Two senators from each state serve in six-year terms. Senators must be at least 30 years old by the time they take office. The Senate is the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress.