The Powers, Authority and Responsibilities of the Senate

The Senate is part of the legislative body of our government and as such together with the House of Representatives they comprise one third of our government structure. Today the culture of the Senate and the House of Representatives are quite different along with the powers and responsibilities it has. The Senate has distinct responsibilities which when properly utilized and in some cases when they are not impact the makeup of our judicial leg of our checks and balance system. Our judicial system is a critical element of our government as the decisions they make impacts every individual some directly and some indirectly.

The Senate has a number of responsibilities and authority not the least of which is holding confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justices. The decisions made by the Supreme Court in the past are still impacting us as a country today and the decisions made today will impact the kind of government we will have in the future. Individuals who are confirmed and take their place as a Supreme Court Justice have a heavy responsibility. The process of confirming the nominees to this high court can be and has been a rigorous process.

Supreme Court justices enjoy a lifetime appointment and as such it is important to confirm the right kind of individual when the time comes to appoint a new individual. This is a critical aspect of our judicial system as those who are confirmed must go through what is hoped to be a rigorous process for these positions. This kind of appointment should not be taken lightly and the Senate must ensure that those appointed to this court has the ability to put aside their political convictions and positions. Cases accepted by the Supreme Court and the decisions made have profoundly impacted our country.

Another power and responsibility of the Senate involves the review of and acceptance of treaties made by the President and his executive department. Treaties being accepted by the Senate are not always an easy sell and should not be. Concurring and accepting a treating must only be done after a careful review is made to determine the agreement benefits all the parties involved. Treaties will not be confirmed unless 2/3 of the Senate concur and accept the agreement. The current political structure and the historical structure of the Senate make it difficult and sometimes impossible to get a 2/3 acceptance vote. No one party to my knowledge has ever held 2/3 of the Senate seats. Reviewing treaties is an important task in the check and balance philosophy of our government structure. It is necessary to understand the content of any treaty and whether the agreement benefits one party over another. Negotiating treaties is a responsibility of the President but it is in association with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The responsibility of impeachment and conducting an impeachment trial has rarely been utilized though there are cases which may or have qualified for impeachment proceedings to be conducted. It is a power which must not be utilized except in extreme circumstances. Presidents have specific powers and responsibilities and it is the responsibility and the power of the Senate to conduct such a review/trial to determine if actions warrant impeachment proceedings to be conducted.

Lastly along with confirming individuals to the Supreme Court the Senate also has responsibilities for other federal judge positions and must give them the same review/process. Federal judges can and has impacted cases in our judicial system. Decisions by federal judges are not final until they are accepted by the parties involved. The final deciding factor is if the Supreme Court takes a case. The highest court in the land does not accept all cases which petition the court to be heard but the ones they do have the potential of having a significant impact on us as individuals and our economy.

These are the powers and responsibilities of the Senate and whether they take these responsibilities seriously is for the public to decide come election time. In addition to the responsibilities is the expectation that legislation passed by the House of Representatives will receive a vote in the Senate. It does not make a difference whether there is agreement on the content of any specific legislation it needs to be presented to the full Senate to make the decision not one individual or group of individuals. It is the prerogative of the Senate to amend legislation and send it back to the House for further review. The responsibilities and expectations of the Senate are not alone as there are also responsibilities and expectations of the House of Representatives. Again it will be the voters who decide in the upcoming election whether individuals or the legislative organizations are meeting voter expectations and what to do about them if they are not. There needs to be more cooperation not partisanship it is what the public expects.

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