Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

THE SENATE:
VOICE OF THE STATES

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The Senate of the United States is the voice of the states and the partner of the House of Representatives. On the new Senate Office Building are engraved in marble the words, "THE SENATE IS THE LIVING SYMBOL OF OUR UNION OF STATES."

The Senate has exceptionally high authority, sometimes higher than the President or the House of Representatives. The Senate can try cases of impeachment, which can dismiss a President for misconduct. Presidents Andrew Johnson and William J. Clinton were impeached by the House but were found innocent of the charges by the Senate and remained President. President Nixon resigned before the House could bring about its impeachment charges.

The Senate also checks the President by having the power to approve or not approve the treaties he makes with other nations. The Senate also approves the appointments that the President makes to his Cabinet, ambassadors, federal judges, and all civilian employees of the government who are not covered by another area.

A senator's term is for six years. Only 1/3 of the entire Senate will be up for reelection at any one time. Therefore, the Senate does not have all new senators at one time. This always leaves 2/3 of the Senate members with some past experience. On the other hand, the House of Representatives could face the problem of all new members if the voters chose to change every representative. Representatives are elected every two years. This keeps the representatives very close to the wishes of the people.

Voters get very excited during a presidential election year. They carefully read about the candidates. They turn out in larger numbers to the polls to vote. Millions watch the election returns. Fewer voters realize, though, that the most important race may be in their own state for the job of senator. The senator is in office longer than the President. The members of the Senate check the President in many ways. Senators help make laws that affect our daily lives. The election of the two senators for each state should receive voter attention because the Senate is the "Voice of the States."

TASKS:

Find the following information:

  • Read the biography of each senator from your state.
  • What 6 points interested you the most about his/her life?
  • How old is the person?
  • To what political party does the senator belong?
  • What are his or her current favorite issues?

Senator Truman:

President Truman served as a United States Senator from 1934--1945. This was his favorite job and he only gave it up when Franklin Roosevelt insisted that he run with him in 1944 as his Vice Presidential candidate.

Read the information about Truman's Senate years and view photos of that period of his life:

Truman's Senate Years

Write a paragraph describing how Truman's Senate years helped prepare him for the presidency.

Truman Library Photographs