Standing Rules of the United States Senate, Rule XXIX

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Rule XXIX of the Standing Rules of the United States Senate, established by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, governs executive session.

The President in the Senate Chamber[edit]

Paragraph 1 stipulates that the President "shall have a seat on the right of the Presiding Officer"[1] when the President goes to the Senate chamber on executive business. Paragraph 1 further stipulates that if the President convenes the Senate in another venue, Senators are to be in attendance.

Secrecy of Closed Executive Session[edit]

Paragraph 2 concerns the secrecy of Presidential business within the Senate chamber. It states that "When acting upon confidential or Executive business, unless the same shall be considered in open Executive session, the Senate Chamber shall be cleared"[2] except for the Majority and Minority leaders and their secretaries, the leader of the Senate and several clerks as well as the Sergeant at Arms. Other members can be asked to stay at the Senate leader's discretion. The rule states that "all such officers shall be sworn to secrecy."[3]

Secrecy of the Content of Closed Executive Session[edit]

Paragraph 3 states that the ensuing session and "all treaties which may be laid before the Senate, and all remarks, votes, and proceedings thereon shall also be kept secret"[4] until the Senate votes to re-enter an open session.

Record of the Injunction of Secrecy[edit]

Paragraph 4 requires that a vote to remove the injunction of secrecy from a closed Executive session be recorded after the vote "in the Legislative Journal as well as in the Executive Journal, and shall be published in the Congressional Record."[5]

Penalty for Disclosing Information About Closed Executive Session[edit]

Paragraph 5 states the penalty for "Any Senator, officer, or employee of the Senate who shall disclose the secret or confidential business or proceedings of the Senate." If the offending party is a Senator they are to be punished with "expulsion from the body" and "if an officer or employee, to dismissal from the service of the Senate, and to punishment for contempt."[6]

Confidentiality of Documents from a Closed Executive Session[edit]

Paragraph 6 covers any documents "communicated to the Senate by the President or the head of any department relating to any matter pending in the Senate, the proceedings in regard to which are secret or confidential under the rules."[7] These documents are to remain confidential unless the Senate decides otherwise.

References[edit]