President pro tempore of the United States Senate

The president pro tempore of the United States Senate (often shortened to president pro tem) is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate and the most senior U.S. senator. Article One, Section Three of the United States Constitution provides that the vice president of the United States is the president of the Senate (despite not being a senator), and mandates that the Senate must choose a president pro tempore to act in the vice president's absence.

President pro tempore of the United States Senate
Seal of the president pro tempore
Patrick Leahy

since January 20, 2021
United States Senate
SeatSenate chamber, United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
AppointerUnited States Senate
Term lengthAt the pleasure of the Senate, and until another is elected or their term of office as a Senator expires
Constituting instrumentUnited States Constitution
FormationMarch 4, 1789
First holderJohn Langdon
DeputyAny senator, typically a member of the majority party, designated by the President pro tempore
SalaryUS$193,400 per annum

Unlike the vice president, the president pro tempore is an elected member of the Senate, able to speak or vote on any bill or issue. They are elected by the Senate as a whole, usually by a resolution which is adopted by unanimous consent without a formal vote. The president pro tempore has enjoyed many privileges and some limited powers.[2]

During the vice president's absence, the president pro tempore is empowered to preside over Senate sessions. Except when necessary or to highlight important votes, the vice president and the president pro tempore rarely preside; instead, the duty of presiding officer is rotated among junior U.S. senators of the majority party to give them experience in parliamentary procedure.[3]

Since 1890, the most senior U.S. senator in the majority party has generally been chosen to be president pro tempore and holds the office continuously until the election of another. This tradition has been observed without interruption since 1949.[4] Since the enactment of the current Presidential Succession Act in 1947, the president pro tempore is third in the line of succession to the presidency, after the vice president and the speaker of the House of Representatives and ahead of the secretary of state.[5]

The current president pro tempore of the Senate is Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He was sworn in on January 20, 2021, during the 117th Congress, when the Democratic Party gained control of the Senate. He previously held the position from 2012 to 2015.[6][7]

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