Seniority in the United States Senate
|This article is part of a series on the|
|United States Senate|
|History of the United States Senate|
|Politics and procedure|
United States senators are conventionally ranked by the length of their tenure in the Senate. The senator in each U.S. state with the longer time in office is known as the senior senator; the other is the junior senator. This convention has no official standing, though seniority confers several benefits, including preference in the choice of committee assignments and physical offices. When senators have been in office for the same length of time, a number of tiebreakers, including previous offices held, are used to determine seniority.
Benefits of seniority
The United States Constitution does not mandate differences in rights or power, but Senate rules give more power to senators with more seniority. Generally, senior senators will have more power, especially within their own caucuses. In addition, by custom, senior senators from the president's party control federal patronage appointments in their states.
There are several benefits, including the following:
- Traditionally, the most senior member of the majority party is named president pro tempore of the Senate.
- Senators are given preferential treatment in choosing committee assignments based on seniority. Seniority on a committee is based on length of time serving on that committee, which means a senator may rank above another in committee seniority but be more junior in the full Senate. Although the committee chairmanship is an elected position, it is traditionally given to the most senior senator of the majority party serving on the committee, and not already holding a conflicting position such as chairmanship of another committee. The ranking member of a committee (called the vice-chairman in some select committees) is elected in the same way.
- Greater seniority enables a senator to choose a desk closer to the front of the Senate Chamber.
- Senators with higher seniority may choose to move into better office space as those offices are vacated.
- Seniority determines the ranking in the United States order of precedence although other factors, such as being a former president or first lady, can place an individual higher in the order of precedence.
Determining the beginning of a term
The beginning of an appointment does not necessarily coincide with the date the Senate convenes or when the new senator is sworn in.
In the case of senators first elected in a general election for the upcoming Congress, their terms begin on the first day of the new Congress. Since 1935, that means January 3 of odd-numbered years.
Run-off elections and special elections
In the case of senators elected in a run-off election occurring after the commencement of a new term, or a special election, their seniority date will be the date they are sworn in and not the first day of that Congress.
The seniority date for an appointed senator is usually the date of the appointment, although the actual term does not begin until they take the oath of office. An incoming senator who holds another office, including membership in the U.S. House of Representatives, must resign from that office before becoming a senator.
Determining length of seniority
A senator's seniority is primarily determined by length of continuous service; for example, a senator who has served for 12 years is more senior than one who has served for 10 years. Because several new senators usually join at the beginning of a new Congress, seniority is determined by prior federal or state government service and, if necessary, the amount of time spent in the tiebreaking office. These tiebreakers in order are:
- Former senator
- Former president of the United States Senate
- Former House member
- Former Cabinet secretary
- Former state governor
- Population of state based on the most recent census when the senator took office
- Length of elected term (in the case where two senators came from the same state on the same day and have identical credentials) 
When more than one senator had such office, its length of time is used to break the tie. For instance, Roy Blunt, Jerry Moran, Rob Portman, John Boozman, Pat Toomey, John Hoeven, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul, Richard Blumenthal and Mike Lee took office on January 3, 2011. The first five senators mentioned had served in the House of Representatives: Blunt and Moran had served for 14 years; Portman for 12; Boozman for nine; Toomey for six. Blunt outranks Moran because Missouri was ranked above Kansas by population in the 2000 census. As a former governor, Hoeven is ranked immediately after the former House members. The rest are ranked by population as of the 2000 census. These ranked from 40th to 50th in seniority when the 117th United States Congress convened.
Senators-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both of Georgia, will be inaugurated on the same day in January 2021 following election certification by the Georgia Secretary of State. Since Ossoff was the one elected to a full six-year term, he will assume the senior rank and Warnock will assume the junior rank. 
Current seniority list
Only relevant factors are listed below. For senators whose seniority is based on their state's respective population, the state population ranking is given as determined by the relevant United States Census current at the time that they began service.
|Senator||Party||State||Seniority date||Committee and Leadership Positions||Other factors|
|1||1692||Patrick Leahy||Democratic||Vermont||January 3, 1975||President Pro Tempore Emeritus
Ranking Member: Appropriations
|2||1743||Chuck Grassley||Republican||Iowa||January 3, 1981||President Pro Tempore
|3||1766||Mitch McConnell||Republican||Kentucky||January 3, 1985||Senate Majority Leader|
|4||1775||Richard Shelby||Republican[b]||Alabama||January 3, 1987||Chair: Appropriations|
|5||1801||Dianne Feinstein||Democratic||California||November 4, 1992||Ranking Member: Judiciary|
|6||1810||Patty Murray||Democratic||Washington||January 3, 1993||Ranking Member: HELP|
|7||1816||Jim Inhofe||Republican||Oklahoma||November 16, 1994||Chair: Armed Services|
|8||1827||Ron Wyden||Democratic||Oregon||February 6, 1996||Ranking Member: Finance|
|9||1831||Dick Durbin||Democratic||Illinois||January 3, 1997||Senate Minority Whip||Former House member (14 years)|
|10||1835||Jack Reed||Democratic||Rhode Island||Ranking Member: Armed Services||Former House member (6 years)|
|11||1842||Susan Collins||Republican||Maine||Chair: Aging|
|12||1844||Chuck Schumer||Democratic||New York||January 3, 1999||Senate Minority Leader||Former House member (18 years)|
|13||1846||Mike Crapo||Republican||Idaho||Chair: Banking||Former House member (6 years)|
|14||1855||Tom Carper||Democratic||Delaware||January 3, 2001||Ranking Member: Environment||Former House member (10 years)|
|15||1856||Debbie Stabenow||Democratic||Michigan||Ranking Member: Agriculture||Former House member (4 years)|
|16||1859||Maria Cantwell[c]||Democratic||Washington||Ranking Member: Commerce||Former House member (2 years)|
|17||1867||John Cornyn||Republican||Texas||December 2, 2002|
|18||1868||Lisa Murkowski||Republican||Alaska||December 20, 2002[d]||Chair: Energy and Natural Resources|
|19||1870||Lindsey Graham||Republican||South Carolina||January 3, 2003||Chair: Judiciary|
|20||1876||Richard Burr||Republican||North Carolina||January 3, 2005||Former House member (10 years)|
|21||1879||John Thune||Republican||South Dakota||Senate Majority Whip||Former House member (6 years)|
|22||1885||Bob Menendez||Democratic||New Jersey||January 17, 2006[d]||Ranking Member: Foreign Relations|
|23||1886||Ben Cardin||Democratic||Maryland||January 3, 2007||Ranking Member: Small Business||Former House member (20 years)|
|24||1887||Bernie Sanders||Independent||Vermont||Ranking Member: Budget||Former House member (16 years)|
|25||1888||Sherrod Brown||Democratic||Ohio||Ranking Member: Banking||Former House member (14 years)|
|26||1890||Bob Casey Jr.||Democratic||Pennsylvania||Ranking Member: Aging||Pennsylvania 6th in population (2000)|
|27||1893||Amy Klobuchar||Democratic||Minnesota||Ranking Member: Rules and Administration||Minnesota 21st in population (2000)|
|28||1894||Sheldon Whitehouse||Democratic||Rhode Island||Rhode Island 43rd in population (2000)|
|29||1895||Jon Tester||Democratic||Montana||Ranking Member: Veteran Affairs||Montana 44th in population (2000)|
|30||1896||John Barrasso||Republican||Wyoming||June 22, 2007[d]||Chair: Environment|
|31||1897||Roger Wicker||Republican||Mississippi||December 31, 2007[d]||Chair: Commerce|
|32||1901||Jeanne Shaheen||Democratic||New Hampshire||January 3, 2009||Former governor (6 years)|
|33||1902||Mark Warner||Democratic||Virginia||Former governor (4 years)|
|34||1903||Jim Risch||Republican||Idaho||Former governor (7 months)|
|36||1909||Michael Bennet||Democratic||Colorado||January 21, 2009[d]|
|37||1910||Kirsten Gillibrand||Democratic||New York||January 26, 2009[d]|
|38||1916||Joe Manchin||Democratic||West Virginia||November 15, 2010||Ranking Member: Energy and Natural Resources||Former governor|
|39||1917||Chris Coons||Democratic||Delaware||Ranking Member: Ethics|
|40||1919||Roy Blunt||Republican||Missouri||January 3, 2011||Chair: Rules and Administration||Former House member (14 years);|
Missouri 17th in population (2000)
|41||1920||Jerry Moran||Republican||Kansas||Former House member (14 years);|
Kansas 33rd in population (2000)
|42||1921||Rob Portman||Republican||Ohio||Former House member (12 years)|
|43||1922||John Boozman||Republican||Arkansas||Former House member (9 years)|
|44||1923||Pat Toomey||Republican||Pennsylvania||Former House member (6 years)|
|45||1924||John Hoeven||Republican||North Dakota||Chair: Indian Affairs||Former governor|
|46||1925||Marco Rubio||Republican||Florida||Florida 4th in population (2000)|
|47||1926||Ron Johnson||Republican||Wisconsin||Chair: Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs||Wisconsin 20th in population (2000)|
|48||1927||Rand Paul||Republican||Kentucky||Kentucky 25th in population (2000)|
|49||1928||Richard Blumenthal||Democratic||Connecticut||Connecticut 29th in population (2000)|
|50||1929||Mike Lee||Republican||Utah||Utah 34th in population (2000)|
|51||1932||Brian Schatz||Democratic||Hawaii||December 26, 2012[d]|
|52||1933||Tim Scott||Republican||South Carolina||January 2, 2013[d]|
|53||1934||Tammy Baldwin||Democratic||Wisconsin||January 3, 2013||Former House member (14 years)|
|54||1937||Chris Murphy||Democratic||Connecticut||Former House member (6 years);|
Connecticut 29th in population (2010)
|55||1938||Mazie Hirono||Democratic||Hawaii||Former House member (6 years);|
Hawaii 40th in population (2010)
|56||1939||Martin Heinrich||Democratic||New Mexico||Former House member (4 years)|
|57||1940||Angus King||Independent||Maine||Former governor (8 years)|
|58||1941||Tim Kaine||Democratic||Virginia||Former governor (4 years)|
|59||1942||Ted Cruz||Republican||Texas||Texas 2nd in population (2010)|
|60||1943||Elizabeth Warren||Democratic||Massachusetts||Massachusetts 14th in population (2010)|
|61||1944||Deb Fischer||Republican||Nebraska||Nebraska 38th in population (2010)|
|62||1948||Ed Markey||Democratic||Massachusetts||July 16, 2013|
|63||1949||Cory Booker||Democratic||New Jersey||October 31, 2013|
|64||1951||Shelley Moore Capito||Republican||West Virginia||January 3, 2015||Former House member (14 years)|
|65||1952||Gary Peters||Democratic||Michigan||Ranking Member: Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs||Former House member (6 years);|
Michigan 8th in population (2010)
|66||1953||Bill Cassidy||Republican||Louisiana||Former House member (6 years);|
Louisiana 25th in population (2010)
|67||1955||James Lankford||Republican||Oklahoma||Chair: Ethics||Former House member (4 years)|
|68||1956||Tom Cotton||Republican||Arkansas||Former House member (2 years);|
Arkansas 32nd in population (2010)
|69||1957||Steve Daines||Republican||Montana||Former House member (2 years);|
Montana 44th in population (2010)
|70||1958||Mike Rounds||Republican||South Dakota||Former governor|
|71||1960||Thom Tillis||Republican||North Carolina||North Carolina 10th in population (2010)|
|72||1961||Joni Ernst||Republican||Iowa||Iowa 30th in population (2010)|
|73||1962||Ben Sasse||Republican||Nebraska||Nebraska 38th in population (2010)|
|74||1963||Dan Sullivan||Republican||Alaska||Alaska 47th in population (2010)|
|75||1964||Chris Van Hollen||Democratic||Maryland||January 3, 2017||Former House member (14 years)|
|76||1965||Todd Young||Republican||Indiana||Former House member (6 years)|
|77||1966||Tammy Duckworth||Democratic||Illinois||Former House member (4 years)|
|78||1967||Maggie Hassan||Democratic||New Hampshire||Former governor|
|79||1968||Kamala Harris||Democratic||California||California 1st in population (2010)|
|80||1969||John Neely Kennedy||Republican||Louisiana||Louisiana 25th in population (2010)|
|81||1970||Catherine Cortez Masto||Democratic||Nevada||Nevada 35th in population (2010)|
|82||1972||Tina Smith||Democratic||Minnesota||January 3, 2018[d]|
|83||1974||Cindy Hyde-Smith||Republican||Mississippi||April 2, 2018[d]|
|84||1975||Marsha Blackburn||Republican||Tennessee||January 3, 2019||Former House member (16 years)|
|85||1976||Kyrsten Sinema||Democratic||Arizona||Former House member (6 years);|
Arizona 16th in population (2010)
|86||1977||Kevin Cramer||Republican||North Dakota||Former House member (6 years);|
North Dakota 48th in population (2010)
|87||1979||Jacky Rosen||Democratic||Nevada||Former House member (2 years)|
|88||1980||Mitt Romney||Republican||Utah||Former governor|
|89||1981||Mike Braun||Republican||Indiana||Indiana 15th in population (2010)|
|90||1982||Josh Hawley||Republican||Missouri||Missouri 18th in population (2010)|
|91||1983||Rick Scott||Republican||Florida||January 8, 2019|
|92||1984||Kelly Loeffler[e]||Republican||Georgia||January 6, 2020[d]|
|93||1985||Mark Kelly||Democratic||Arizona||December 2, 2020|
|94||1986||Ben Ray Luján||Democratic||New Mexico||January 3, 2021||Former House member (12 years)|
|95||1987||Cynthia Lummis||Republican||Wyoming||Former House member (8 years)|
|96||1988||Roger Marshall||Republican||Kansas||Former House member (4 years)|
|97||1989||John Hickenlooper||Democratic||Colorado||Former governor|
|98||1990||Bill Hagerty||Republican||Tennessee||Tennessee 17th in population (2010)|
|99||1991||Tommy Tuberville||Republican||Alabama||Alabama 23rd in population (2010)|
|Senator||Party||State||Seniority date||Other factors|
- List of current United States senators
- Seniority in the United States House of Representatives
- List of members of the United States Congress by longevity of service
- List of longest-living United States senators
- "Historical rank" refers to the senator's seniority over the entire history of the Senate since 1789. This is an absolute number that does not change from one Congress to the next.
- Richard Shelby's 1994 party change did not break his service or seniority.
- Maria Cantwell (#16) is the Senate's most senior junior senator.
- The seniority date for an appointed senator is the date of the appointment, not necessarily the date of taking the oath of office. See Determining the beginning of a term, above.
- Kelly Loeffler (#92) of Georgia is the Senate's most junior senior senator. However, the state does not currently have a junior senator, this situation being brought about by the expiration of David Perdue's term on January 3 before the runoff for his reelection on January 5.
- "Senators of the United States 1789–present, A chronological list of senators since the First Congress in 1789" (PDF). Senate Historical Office. January 3, 2021. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
- "CRS Guide to the Legislative Process in the House -- Congress: The House". archives-democrats-rules.house.gov. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
- "1991 U.S Census Report" (PDF).
- American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau. "2000 Census State Population Rankings". Factfinder.census.gov. Archived from the original on April 3, 2009. Retrieved May 28, 2010.
- "Resident Population Data (Text Version) – 2010 Census, by state and census region".