Is the Senate a Continuing Body?

The main page of the U.S. Senate website today explains to visitors “What Happens When a New Congress Begins?”  Presumably, this informative blurb, probably written by the Senate historian, is not intended to delve into controversial and bitterly divisive topics.  Yet the author asserts that “the Senate is a continuing body” which “does not have to reorganize itself each new Congress.”

These may appear to be simple statements of established principles (and indeed they are), but they are also hotly disputed by at least some Senators and academics.  The theory on which Senators Udall and Merkley, among others, will attempt to overturn the filibuster rule in the next Congress depends on the Senate not being a continuing body.  The argument for this position is laid out in Professor Aaron Bruhl’s “Burying the ‘Continuing Body’ Theory of the Senate.”  (More on which later.)

In the meantime, one wonders if the Senators read their own website.

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