The number of Senate members, including the Speaker, should not exceed half the House of Representatives members. Senate members are directly appointed by His Majesty the King as per terms specified by the Constitution.
The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by His Majesty the King by a Royal Decree, for a two-year renewable term.
Membership term in the Senate is four years, renewable by the King.
The sessions are similar for both Houses (Senate and Representatives).
The legal Senate meetings quorum is two-thirds of the members. Senate meetings are valid as long as the absolute majority of members are present. The Senate takes its decisions by the majority of present members votes excluding the Speaker, unless the Constitution states otherwise. In case of a tie in votes, the Speaker must give his casting vote.
The Permanent Bureau of the Senate consists of the Speaker and his two deputies and two assistants. The two deputies and two assistants are elected for a two-year term:
- The two Deputy Speakers
The first Deputy handles the duties and authorities of the Speaker in his/her absence. The second Deputy handles the Speaker’s duties and authorities in case the Speaker and the First Deputy are absent.
- The two Assistants perform the following duties
- Assisting the Speaker of the Senate in running the meetings
- Counting votes [voting slips], sorting them, and verifying the voting results under the Speaker’s supervision.
- Minutes recording of the confidential meetings of the Senate, signing them, and reciting for the members some portions of the minutes or other documents as requested.
The Senate’s Standing Committees are nine as follows:
- The Legal Affairs Committee.
- The Financial and Economic Affairs Committee.
- The Foreign Affairs Committee.
- The Educational and Cultural Affairs Committee.
- The Environment, Health and Social Development Affairs Committee.
- The Administrative Affairs Committee.
- Water and Agricultural Affairs Committee.
- The Tourism and Cultural Heritage Affairs Committee
- The Development and Population Affairs Committee.
- The Senate elects committee members for a two-year term.
- Each committee convenes upon the Speaker request to elect one of the members as a rapporteur to chair the committee’s meetings, decide the matters for discussions, and invite committee members to its meetings. The Speaker of the Senate can chair meetings of any Committee if deemed necessary.
- The Senate can form ad hoc committees, and identify the number of its members, functions and duration.
The Higher Council consists of the Speaker of the Senate as chairman and eight members. Three members of the Council are Senators nominated by the Senate, and the other five are judges of the highest civil court selected according to seniority.
The Higher Council exercises the following duties:
- Interpret the Constitutional provisions if requested upon a Cabinet decision, a resolution of the Senate, or a decision of the House of Parliament by an absolute majority.
- Prosecute ministers for crimes attributed to them while in office.
Upon the Constitutional provisions and the Senate bylaw, the Senate has two basic roles: legislative and oversight functions.
- The Legislative Function
The Senate Legislative role consists of:
- Propose bills
article (95) of the Constitution states that "Any ten or more members from each House (the Senate or Representatives) may propose laws. Each proposal is referred to the respected committee in the House for a decision. If the House approves the proposal, then it is referred to the Cabinet to be drafted and presented to the House during the existing session or the next one.
- Deliberate draft laws
The Speaker passes on bills referred by the House of Representatives to the concerned committee for deliberation and decision taking accordingly to be referred to the Speaker who, in turn, refers it to the Senate for discussion and deliberation.
- Approve draft laws
The Senate authorities during the adoption stage are restricted to three options (approval, rejection, or modification of the draft law) as follows:
- *If the Senate approves the bill, as passed by the House of representatives, it is then sent to the Government to be raised to His Majesty the King to be approved, issued, and gazetted.
- * If the Senate does not approve the bill as passed by the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the Senate returns it to the House of Representatives for reconsideration, whether the Senate’s decision was to reject the bill, amend it, delete or add certain items therein.
- * If the House of Representatives approves the bill as suggested by the Senate, the Speaker of the Senate directly refers it to the Senate for ratification. It is then passed on to the Government to be raised to His Majesty the King for ratification.
- * If the House of Representatives refuses the amendment of a bill as approved by the Senate, or if the House of Representative introduced some changes to the bill, the Speaker refers it to the concerned committee to study the disputed article.
- * If, for the second time, the Senate disapproves the House of Representatives’ decision as returned to it, the Speaker of the Senate calls the Speaker of the House of Representatives for a joint meeting of the two Houses to discuss the different articles of the bill. The meeting is chaired by the Speaker of the Senate. A two-thirds majority of the members present in the joint meeting is required for the draft law approval.
Overseeing the work and actions of the Executive Authority is one of the House’s basic functions as per the Constitution and the House’s bylaw. Due to the nature of the Senate’s oversight function, it can be divided into two roles:
- Political Oversight
The Senate’s political oversight role lies in overseeing the work of the Government in running state affairs, controlling the legality of the Government’s work, and guaranteeing its abidance by the Constitution and the State’s laws and regulations to realize the public interest and safeguard it.
In the same perspective, the Senate’s oversight role extends to the control over the Government’s foreign policy, its relations with the outside world, and its political stances.
- The Senate exercises its oversight role via various tools set by the Constitution and the Senate bylaw. Oversight tools are delineated as follows:
- *Directing questions
Every Member of the Senate is entitled to address Ministers with questions regarding any public matter.
Each member of the Senate is entitled to interrogate Ministers. Interrogation means holding ministers or a minister accountable for their performance in State public affairs. Interrogation is more important and serious than questioning regarding the ministry’s position, since interrogation is not intended merely to get clarification over an issue unknown to the interrogator. Rather it is aimed at discussing and criticizing the ministry’s policy on a specific issue.
- * Putting forward a general topic for discussion
Any member of the Senate is entitled to raise any subject of public matters for discussion. Five or more members may request a discussion of any public matter. This can take place through a dialogue between members of the Senate and the Government where the latter exchanges views with Senate members. This method is of two benefits: first, the Government meets the Senate’s demands to overview Government policy. Second, the discussion enriches views and allows shared decision making to realize the public interest.
- Suggestions with no Voting Right
Any Senator, who is not a member of a certain committee and has an opinion regarding a proposal or a bill referred to that committee, may ask the Speaker to permit his/her participation in the committee’s deliberations with no voting right.
- *Petitions and Complaints
The Senate looks into citizens’ public and private concerns and issues where every Jordanian citizen has the right to bring to the Senate a complaint regarding personal or public matters.
The Senate exercises financial oversight over State finances via the following:
- Participate in adopting the Draft State Budget law.
- Oversee taxation to make sure that no tax or fee is imposed without a law adopted by the National Assembly’s Senate and Representatives.
- Oversee concessions contracts. The National Assembly Chambers have to approve by law every concession granted to exploit the Country’s mines, minerals resources, or public facilities.
Since the first Jordanian Constitution on February 1st 1947, it was stated that the Legislative Authority is vested in the National Assembly and the King. It was also stated that National Assembly is bicameral: