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Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the United States Senate
Seal of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the United States Senate
Karen Gibson
since March 22, 2021
NominatorSenate Majority Leader
AppointerElected by the Senate
Inaugural holderJames Mathers
DeputyKelly Fado

The sergeant at arms and doorkeeper of the United States Senate (originally known as the doorkeeper of the Senate[1] from April 7, 1789 – 1798) is the protocol officer, executive officer, and highest-ranking federal law enforcement officer of the Senate of the United States.[2] The office of the sergeant at arms of the Senate currently has just short of 1,000 full time staff.[3]

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One of the roles of the sergeant at arms is to hold the gavel when not in use.[2] The sergeant at arms can also compel the attendance of an absent senator when ordered to do so by the Senate.[1]

With the architect of the Capitol and the House sergeant at arms, the sergeant at arms serves on the Capitol Police Board, responsible for security around the building.

The sergeant at arms can, upon orders of the Senate, arrest and detain any person who violates Senate rules,[1] or is found in contempt of Congress.[4]

The sergeant at arms is also the executive officer for the Senate and provides senators with computers, equipment, and repair and security services.[1]

Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer (right) escorting President Obama to his 2011 State of the Union Address

Staff and organization

The office of the sergeant at arms of the Senate has between 800 and 900 staff,[clarification needed] of the approximately 4,300 working for the Senate overall. Its budget is in the order of $200 million per year. Top officials reporting to the sergeant at arms include a deputy; a chief of staff; assistant sergeant at arms for intelligence and protective services; a CIO; an operations chief; Capitol operations; a general counsel; two legislative liaisons; and a CFO.[5]

Senate Sergeant at Arms Charles Higgins turns forward the Ohio Clock for the first Daylight Saving Time On March 31, 1918

The main office of the sergeant at arms is in the Postal Square Building in Washington, D.C. The core computer operations are in that building, and the staff manages Internet and intranet connections to offices of senators both in the Capitol complex and back in their home states.[5][6]


The Office of the Doorkeeper was created on April 7, 1789, during the 1st United States Congress to address the Senate's inability to keep a majority of senators in the Capitol long enough to meet quorum and conduct business. The Senate had first convened on March 4, 1789, but only met quorum for the first time on April 6, 1789, one day before the appointment of the first doorkeeper, James C. Mathers. Because Senate sessions were held in private for the first six years, the doorkeeper was in charge of access to those sessions. When the sessions became public, the doorkeeper became in charge of security in the chamber and the gallery.[7]

In 1798, the title of Sergeant at Arms was appended to the Office of the Doorkeeper after Mathers was authorized to compel former senator William Blount to return to Philadelphia and face an impeachment trial. Shortly afterwards the sergeant at arms was given additional powers to compel absent senators to attend sessions, which has typically been used to summon members when ending filibusters in the United States Senate.[7]

In 1829, the sergeant at arms began supervising Senate pages, after the appointment of the first page. In 1854, the Senate's first postmaster and post office initially operated out of the sergeant at arms's office.[7]

In 1867, the sergeant at arms was given regulation-making power to maintain, protect, and police the Capitol and the Senate Office Buildings. The sergeant at arms's role was also expanded to include serving as the Senate's wagon master and keeper of the Senate stables. In 1913, when the Senate purchased its first automobile for use by the vice president, the sergeant at arms also became responsible for leasing, maintenance, traffic control, and parking of all cars around the Capitol.[7]

In 1897, James D. Preston, a doorkeeper in the Senate Press Gallery working under the sergeant at arms, began helping the reporters with collecting legislative bills, gathering information, and organizing interviews with senators. Preston was eventually installed as the first superintendent of the Senate Press Gallery. As new forms of media emerged in the 1930s and 1940s, this superintendent role expanded in parallel.[7]

Martha S. Pope was the first woman to serve as Sergeant at Arms for either chamber, being elected by the Senate for the 102nd and 103rd Congresses.[8]

On January 7, 2021, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he would fire the incumbent sergeant at arms, Michael C. Stenger, if he was not fired or did not resign prior to Schumer's being appointed as Senate Majority Leader.[9] This announcement was made the day after the Capitol Building was attacked by a violent group of supporters of President Donald Trump. The attack resulted in the death of at least 5 people and extensive damage of more than $2 million of the building itself.[10] On the same day, Mitch McConnell, the outgoing Senate Majority Leader, asked for and received Stenger's resignation, effective immediately.[11] Deputy Sergeant at Arms Jennifer Hemingway was announced by McConnell as the acting sergeant-at-arms.[12] On January 20, 2021, Eugene Goodman was announced as the acting deputy sergeant at arms of the United States Senate when stepping out onto the inauguration platform ahead of Kamala Harris.[13][14]

List of the sergeants at arms of the Senate

No. Image Officer State or territory Tenure[1] Congress
1 James Mathers New York April 7, 1789 – September 2, 1811 1st12th
2 Mountjoy Bayly Maryland November 6, 1811 – December 9, 1833 12th23rd
3 John Shackford New Hampshire December 9, 1833 – August 16, 1837 23rd25th
4 Stephen Haight New York September 4, 1837 – January 12, 1841 25th26th
5 Edward Dyer Maryland March 8, 1841 – September 16, 1845 27th29th
6 Robert Beale Virginia December 9, 1845 – March 17, 1853 29th33rd
7 Dunning R. McNair Pennsylvania March 17, 1853 – July 6, 1861 33rd37th
8 George T. Brown Illinois July 6, 1861 – March 22, 1869 37th41st
John R. French New Hampshire March 22, 1869 – March 24, 1879 41st46th
10 Richard J. Bright Indiana March 24, 1879 – December 18, 1883 46th48th
11 William P. Canaday North Carolina December 18, 1883 – June 30, 1890 48th51st
Edward K. Valentine Nebraska June 30, 1890 – August 7, 1893 51st53rd
13 Richard J. Bright Indiana August 8, 1893 – February 1, 1900 53rd56th
14 Daniel M. Ransdell Indiana February 1, 1900 – August 26, 1912 56th62nd
15 E. Livingston Cornelius Maryland December 10, 1912 – March 4, 1913 62nd
16 Charles P. Higgins Missouri March 13, 1913 – March 3, 1919 63rd65th
David S. Barry Rhode Island May 19, 1919 – February 7, 1933 66th72nd
18 Chesley W. Jurney Texas March 9, 1933 – January 31, 1943 73rd78th
Wall Doxey Mississippi February 1, 1943 – January 3, 1947 78th79th
20 Edward F. McGinnis Illinois January 4, 1947 – January 2, 1949 80th
21 Joseph C. Duke Arizona January 3, 1949 – January 2, 1953 81st82nd
Forest A. Harness Indiana January 3, 1953 – January 4, 1955 83rd84th
23 Joseph C. Duke Arizona January 5, 1955 – December 30, 1965 84th89th
24 Robert G. Dunphy Rhode Island January 14, 1966 – June 30, 1972[15] 89th92nd
25 William H. Wannall Maryland July 1, 1972 – December 17, 1975 92nd94th
Frank "Nordy" Hoffman Indiana December 18, 1975 – January 4, 1981 94th97th
Howard Liebengood[16] Virginia January 5, 1981 – September 12, 1983 97th98th
28 Larry E. Smith Virginia September 13, 1983 – June 2, 1985 98th99th
29 Ernest E. Garcia Kansas June 3, 1985 – January 5, 1987 99th100th
30 Henry K. Giugni Hawaii January 6, 1987 – December 31, 1990 100th101st
31 Martha S. Pope Connecticut January 3, 1991 – April 14, 1994 102nd103rd
32 Robert Laurent Benoit Maine April 15, 1994 – January 3, 1995 103rd
33 Howard O. Greene Jr. Delaware January 4, 1995 – September 6, 1996 104th
34 Gregory S. Casey Idaho September 6, 1996 – November 9, 1998 104th105th
35 James W. Ziglar Mississippi November 9, 1998 – August 2, 2001 105th107th
Alfonso E. Lenhardt New York September 4, 2001 – March 16, 2003 107th108th
William H. Pickle Colorado March 17, 2003 – January 4, 2007 108th110th
Terrance W. Gainer Illinois January 4, 2007 – May 2, 2014 110th113th
Andrew B. Willison Ohio May 5, 2014 – January 6, 2015 113th114th
Frank J. Larkin Maryland January 6, 2015 – April 16, 2018 114th115th
Michael C. Stenger New Jersey April 16, 2018 – January 7, 2021[17] 115th117th
Jennifer Hemingway (acting) Washington D.C. January 7, 2021 - March 22, 2021 117th
Karen Gibson Montana March 22, 2021 – present[12][18] 117th118th - present

List of the deputy sergeants at arms of the Senate

No. Image Officer State or territory Tenure[1] Congress
James Morhard 2015–2018 114th115th
Jennifer Hemingway 2018 – January 7, 2021 115th117th
Eugene Goodman (acting) January 20, 2021 - March 2, 2021 117th
Kelly Fado[19] March 22, 2021 – present 117th

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Sergeant at Arms". United States Senate. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper". United States Senate. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  3. ^ "Fiscal Year 2023 Written Testimony – Office of the Sergeant at Arms – United States Senate". United States Senate. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  4. ^ Wolfe, Jan (May 6, 2019). "Explainer: How hard-hitting are U.S. Congress subpoenas, contempt citations?". Reuters. Archived from the original on May 6, 2019. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Testimony of Frank J. Larkin, Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate to the Senate Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, Committee on Appropriations. March 1, 2016
  6. ^ Gantz, Stephen (March 8, 2010). "Senate sees exponential rise in computer attacks, might be time to rethink security posture, not just spend more to respond". Security Architecture. Archived from the original on October 6, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Sergeant At Arms". United States Senate. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  8. ^ Aide to Mitchell Selected by Senate as Its First Woman Sergeant-at-Arms, Los Angeles Times
  9. ^ "Schumer says he will fire Senate sergeant-at-arms over Capitol breach: Politico". Reuters. 2021-01-07. Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  10. ^ Steinberg, Jennifer Elias,Kevin Breuninger,Marty (2021-01-07). "More than 50 police officers were injured at the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol". CNBC. Retrieved 2021-01-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Everett, Burgess; Cayble, Heather (January 7, 2021). "Top Capitol security officials sacked after deadly riot". Politico. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Carney, Jordain (January 7, 2021). "McConnell ousts Senate sergeant-at-arms after Capitol riots". The Hill. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  13. ^ Kamala Harris Escorted By Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman (Television production). USA: NBC News. 20 January 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  14. ^ Kaur, Harmeet (January 20, 2021). "Kamala Harris was escorted to the ceremony by the Capitol Police officer who led rioters away from Senate". CNN. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  15. ^ "Obituaries". The Washington Post. January 21, 2006. p. B05. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012.
  16. ^ "Howard Liebengood, 62; U.S. Senate Officer, Washington Lobbyist - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. 18 January 2005.
  17. ^ Mitch, McConnell (April 16, 2018). "S.Res.465 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): A resolution electing Michael C. Stenger as Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate". Archived from the original on February 12, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  18. ^ Stein, Perrin (March 21, 2021). "Bozemanite tapped as next Senate sergeant-at-arms". KPVI-DT. Archived from the original on March 23, 2021. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  19. ^ "Majority Leader Schumer Announces New Senate Sergeant at Arms Leadership Team with Karen Gibson as SAA, Kelly Fado as Deputy SAA and Jennifer Hemingway as Chief of Staff | Senate Democratic Leadership".

External links

This page was last edited on 16 August 2023, at 06:46
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