Seniority / Junior Senator / Senior Senator
Cartoon explanation here.
The status given members according to their length of service in the chamber, which entitles a member with greater seniority to preferential treatment in matters such as committee assignments.
In the House, the Press Gallery maintains a seniority list.
In the Senate, the Democratic Steering Committee selects committee leaders generally based on seniority. Neither Senate rules nor party rules discuss how subcommittee assignments are made. However, there are two prevalent practices. Under one practice, the full committee chair exercises discretion in selecting subcommittee members. Under the other common practice, senators choose assignments in a bidding process in order of seniority on the full committee, similar to the way the House members select subcommittee assignments.
At congressional hearings, many committees recognize members in order of their seniority on the committee.
Junior Senator and Senior Senator: Each state has two senators. The senator with the longer service in the Senate is the “senior senator” and the senator with the lesser service in the Senate is the “junior senator.”
The Secret Strategy of Congressional Seniority | Ron’s Office Hours | NPR
Seniority, i.e., length of service in the Senate, generally determines the location of a senator’s desk on the Senate floor, with more senior members often having desks closer to the rostrum. However, senators can choose not to move to a closer desk. See the Senate Seating Chart.
Certain desks are designated for specific senators. For example, since 1974, the senior senator from New Hampshire has always occupied the desk previously used by Daniel Webster, who represented Massachusetts in the Senate but was born in New Hampshire. Since 1995, the senior senator from Mississippi is assigned the desk formerly occupied by Jefferson Davis. A so-called “candy desk,” filled with sweets, exists on an aisle in the last row on the Republican side of the chamber.
- Congressional Leadership and Committees
- Floor / Aisle / Candy Desk / Gallery
- Party Leaders and Leadership
- Ranking Member
- Seating Charts
- § 5.100 House Committee and Subcommittee Assignment Process, § 5.110 Senate Committee and Subcommittee Assignment Process, § 11.20 How to Follow Floor Proceedings in the Senate, in Congressional Deskbook
- Chapter 3.C. Committee Chairs; in Congressional Procedure
- Congressional Leadership and Committees
- “Senate Committees: Categories and Rules for Committee Assignments,” CRS Report 98-183 (5-page PDF)
- “House Standing Committee Chairs: Rules Governing Selection Procedures,” CRS Report RS21165 (10-page PDF)
- “House Committees: Categories and Rules for Committee Assignments,” CRS Report 98-151 (8-page PDF)
- “Committee System: Rules Changes in the House, 104th Congress,” CRS Report 95-187 (5-page PDF)
- “House Subcommittees: Assignment Process,” CRS Report 98-610 (6-page PDF)
- “Subcommittees in the House of Representatives,” CRS Report 98-544 (4-page PDF)
- “House Leadership Structure: Overview of Party Organization,” CRS Report RS20930 (3-page PDF)
- “Committee Assignment Process in the U.S. Senate: Democratic and Republican Party Procedures,” CRS Report RL30743 (19-page PDF)
- “Role of Home State Senators in the Selection of Lower Federal Court Judges,” CRS Report RL34405 (81-page PDF)
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