Parliamentarian of the United States Senate
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Parliamentarian of the United States Senate
Parliamentarian of the United States Senate
Elizabeth MacDonough

since 2012
United States Senate
First holderCharles Watkins

The Parliamentarian of the United States Senate is the official advisor to the United States Senate on the interpretation of Standing Rules of the United States Senate and parliamentary procedure.

As the Presiding Officer of the Senate may not be, and usually isn't, aware of the parliamentary situation currently facing the Senate, a parliamentary staff sits second from the left on the Senate dais to advise the Presiding Officer on how to respond to inquiries and motions from Senators (including the Sargent and Arms will restore order in the gallery). The role of the parliamentary staff is advisory, and the Presiding Officer may overrule the advice of the parliamentarian. In practice this is rare, and the most recent example of a Vice President (as President of the Senate) overruling the parliamentarian was Nelson Rockefeller in 1975.[1]


An important role of the parliamentarian is to decide what can and cannot be done under the Senate's Reconciliation process under the provisions of the Byrd Rule.[2] These rulings are important because they allow certain bills to be approved by a simple majority, instead of the sixty votes needed to end debate and block a filibuster. A meeting to screen a draft bill by the Parliamentarian Office staff in the presence of Republican and Democratic staff is sometimes informally termed a Byrd Bath.

The office also refers bills to the appropriate committees on behalf of the Senate's Presiding Officer, and referees efforts by the ruling party to change the Senate rules by rulings from the chair. The parliamentarian is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Senate Majority Leader. Traditionally, the parliamentarian is chosen from senior staff in the parliamentarian office, which helps ensure consistency in the application of the Senate's complex rules. The last two parliamentarians have served under both Republican and Democratic Senate rule.

The Parliamentarian's current salary is $171,315 per year.[3]


The current parliamentarian is Elizabeth MacDonough, who has held the office since 2012, and was appointed by then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.[2] The following people have served as Senate Parliamentarian:[4]

Years Parliamentarian
1935-64[5] Charles Watkins
1964-74 Floyd Riddick
1974-81 Murray Zweben
1981-87 Robert Dove
1987-95 Alan Frumin
1995-2001 Robert Dove
2001-12 Alan Frumin
2012-present Elizabeth MacDonough[6]

See also


  1. ^ Young, Jeffrey (February 16, 2010). "Healthcare reform and reconciliation a bad mix, ex-parliamentarian says". The Hill. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ a b Bolton, Alexander (January 31, 2012). "After nearly 20 years, Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin to retire". The Hill. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ Brudnick, Ida A. (July 14, 2016). "Congressional Salaries and Allowances: In Brief" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Gold, Martin (2008). Senate procedure and practice. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7425-6305-6.
  5. ^ Heitshusen, Valerie. "Parliamentarian_of_the_United_States_Senate" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ Rogers, David (February 6, 2012). "Elizabeth MacDonough is Senate's first female parliamentarian". Politico. Retrieved 2014.


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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