Committees are essential to the effective operation of legislative bodies. Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction. As &#34;little legislatures,&#34; committees monitor on-going governmental operations, identify issues suitable for legislative review, gather and evaluate information; and recommend courses of action to their parent body.<br/><br/>Several thousand bills and resolutions are referred to committees during each 2-year Congress. Committees select a small percentage for consideration, and those not addressed often receive no further action. The bills that committees report help to set the Senate’s agenda.<br/><br/><b>How Bills Move Through Senate Committees </b><br/>The Senate committee system is similar to that of the House of Representatives, although it has its own guidelines and each committee adopts its own rules.<br/><br/>The chair of each committee and a majority of its members represent the majority party. The chair primarily controls a committee’s business. Each party assigns its own members to committees, and each committee distributes its members among its subcommittees.<br/><br/>When a committee or subcommittee favors a measure, it usually takes four actions.<br/><br/><b>First</b>, the committee or sub-committee chair asks relevant executive agencies for written comments on the measure.<br/><br/><b>Second</b>, the committee or sub-committee chair schedules hearings to gather information and views from non-committee experts. At committee hearings, these witnesses summarize submitted statements and then respond to questions from the senators.<br/><br/><b>Third</b>, the committee or sub-committee chair schedules a committee meeting to perfect the measure through amendments; non-committee members usually attempt to influence this language.<br/><br/><b>Fourth</b>, when the committee agrees on bill or resolution language, the committee votes to send the measure back to the full Senate, usually along with a written report describing its purposes and provisions.