Senate Facts

How many female Senators are there?

Twenty-five. They are Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) Shelly Moore-Capito (R-W. Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and myself.

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Why is Senator Feinstein considered California's "Senior Senator" when she was first elected in the same year as Senator Barbara Boxer?
Senators Feinstein and Boxer were both elected in 1992. But Senator Feinstein was elected to fill the seat of then-Senator Pete Wilson who became California governor. Senator Feinstein was sworn into office a few days after the 1992 November election while Senator Boxer was sworn in January of 1993. In 2016, Senator Boxer retired and was replaced by Senator Kamala Harris, maintaining Senator Feinstein's status as California's "senior senator." And when Senator Harris was elected vice president she was replaced by Senator Alex Padilla, maintaining Senator Feinstein's status as "senior senator." Return to Top
How do I access the texts of bills, statements, or resolutions on Internet?
You can access all statements, bill texts, and resolutions by going to, the official site of the U.S. Congress. If you have trouble locating a document that you are looking for, please call my Washington office at (202) 224-3841. Return to Top
What is an appropriation?
The funding of government agencies and programs or the granting of money – but not always all of which is contained in the authorization. Appropriations bills originate in the House. Return to Top
What is an authorization?
The act of establishing a program and setting its general level of funding. The process of authorization must be followed by that of an appropriation before a program can go into effect. There are often great disparities between what is authorized and what is eventually appropriated. Return to Top
What is a balanced budget?
A budget in which income equals or exceeds spending. Most states require balanced budgets, but the federal government does not. Return to Top
What is a budget agreement?
A complex accord between Congress and the White House to reduce deficit spending over a five year period. The 1990 agreement set ceilings for major funding categories that could be breached only by raising taxes. The Balanced Budget agreement for 1997 set the parameters for a balanced budget. Return to Top
What is a budget resolution?
Concurrent resolution, not a law, setting out the congressional spending priorities for the next five fiscal years. Return to Top
What is discretionary spending?
Spending that is not guaranteed by entitlements. This increasingly shrinking authority was split into three categories – defense, domestic, and international – by the 1990 budget agreement. Return to Top
What are entitlements?
Programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans' benefits, that must be provided to all eligible persons who seek them, with the added assurance of legal recourse if they are not. Return to Top
What is an omnibus bill?
Any piece of proposed legislation that deals with a wide variety of subjects. Today, the term is used mostly to describe a mammoth bill such as a continuing resolution, which is usually used at the end of the legislative session to package many bills together. This is usually done with spending bills. Return to Top
What is a quorum call?
A demand that the members present be counted to see if a quorum is present. Most quorum calls in the Senate are actually used to delay proceedings until a deal can be worked out or until a tardy speaker can get to the floor. Anyone may be set a quorum call in motion, usually by saying 'I suggest the absence of a quorum.' Return to Top
What is cloture?
Cloture is the process by which debate can be limited in the Senate without unanimous consent. When invoked by roll call vote – three-fifths of those present and voting – it limits each senator to one hour of debate. Perhaps because it sounds more like a medical than a political term, it is seldom used outside of Congress and government textbooks. Return to Top
What is a filibuster?
To delay or stop action on a bill in the Senate through constant talking. Or a long speech or series of speeches used to delay or stop action on a bill by consuming large blocks of time. This time-honored delaying tactic is almost always employed by the minority to defeat a measure favored by the majority. Some have so refined the art of the filibuster that the mere threat of staging one can kill a bill or sidetrack it. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster, and if a bill's sponsor cannot round them up, they are often forced to make a number of deals before having the bill considered. Return to Top
What is a veto?
To reject legislation. In the context of Congress, this term refers to the right of the president to reject a bill that has been passed by both houses of Congress. Two-thirds votes are required by Congress to overcome a presidential veto. Return to Top
What is a conference committee?
Panel of members from both houses, usually key members of the committees that handled the bill under consideration, given the job of working out a compromise between the usually different versions of a bill passed by the House and Senate. Return to Top
What is a censure?
The act of disciplining a fellow member through a vote of disapproval or condemnation. This may be a reprimand, severe reprimand, censure, condemnation, or expulsion. The Constitution specifies that each house may 'punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.' Return to Top
What is the electoral college?
The body of presidential electors, equal in number to each state's representation in Congress, as chosen by the voters in presidential elections. It takes 270 votes in the electoral college to become president. Return to Top
What does "inside the Beltway" mean?
The "Beltway" is the name for the interstate highway that rings the city of Washington as it runs through the inner suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. The phrase "inside the Beltway" often refers to a state of mind found within the area outlined by the highway. Return to Top