Ilona Nickels
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Accountability of Elected Officials
Career Paths to Congress
Chaplains in the U.S. Congress
House Ethics Process
House/Senate Differences
Lame Duck Congress: Attendance and Voting
Members of Congress: A Job Description
Members of Congress: Who Do They Represent?
Oath of Office for Members of Congress
Pledge of Allegiance: Standing for the Pledge
Pledge of Allegiance: Use in Congress
Qualifications to Run for Congress
Senate: 50-50 Split?
Senate Majority Leader: A Job Description
Sessions of Congress: Lengths
Size of House and Senate
Speaker of the House: a Job Description
Amending the Constitution
Constitutionality of Legislation
August Recesses
First Congress
GOP: Origins of Term
Ideology: Left or Right
Lame Duck Congress: Definition
Party Animals: the Donkey and the Elephant
Statue of Freedom
U.S. Citizenship Test
Amendment Tree in the Senate
Changing a Law
Conference Committees: In Decline
Conference Committees: Procedures
“Deem and Pass” Procedure
Executive Orders
Holds in the Senate
How to Find Basic Legislative Information
How to Keep Up With Congress
Types of Legislation

Capitol Corner

Senate Majority Leader: a Job Description

What are the duties of the Senate Majority Leader? How much does he get paid? What can be done to get rid of a Majority Leader?

Senate: 50-50 Split? by Ilona NickelsBoth the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders make $193,400 annually, which is more than the salary of other Senators, who make $174,000 a year.

The salaries of the two Leaders are at parity because they share many of the same responsibilities, detailed below. The chief distinction between them is the exclusive right of the Majority Leader to schedule bills for floor consideration.

Much has been made in the press lately of Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) sway over the legislative agenda. No doubt, the largest measure of control over what is taken up for debate and what is voted on belongs to the Senate Majority Leader, regardless of the Senator holding that position. But, the Majority Leader's control over the agenda must be seen in context.

Filibusters are tools that can be used to delay or even stop a bill from getting consideration. Legislation the Majority Leader schedules can be filibustered – upping the required votes to take up a bill for debate from 51 to 60.

Also, Senators in most cases (but not all), can offer subject matter for floor debate through the procedural device of offering non-germane (off topic) amendments to bills that are being debated on the floor.

In November 2013, Majority Leader Reid with the support of all but two Senate Democrats, changed the Senate's rules so that presidential nominations can be brought to a vote by a simple majority, 51 Senators, rather than 60 votes, which had been the prevailing rule for the last 40 years. The consequence of the change is that a President whose party is the majority in the Senate can get his nominees approved more quickly and more easily than before.

In April 2017, Majority Leader McConnell extended this precedent to now also pertain to Supreme Court nominations. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court only needed 51 votes to clear the filibuster hurdle and not the 60 votes required in the past. If a nomination is not scheduled for floor consideration by the Majority Leader, it cannot be offered in the form of an amendment to a bill. Therefore, the Majority Leader has significant influence over nominations.

Majority Leaders are replaced in one of three ways: 1) voters send more Senators from the "other" party to the Senate, switching the majority/minority status of the two parties; 2) the Senate Majority Leader loses his bid for re-election from his home state and is not returned to office; 3)  a majority of the Majority Leader’s party colleagues decide to replace him with an internal party caucus vote. This would usually be attempted at the start of a new Congress.

Duties of the Senate Majority Leader

Responsibilities which are assigned to the Senator Majority Leader exclusively:

Responsibilities which are shared with the Senator Minority Leader: