How Many Senators Are There?
How many senators are there? The United States Senate is comprised of 100 Senators, two from each state.
While it may sound simple, developing this representative structure caused a lot of debate at the Constitutional Convention where the U.S. Constitution was drafted. Though only thirteen states existed at this point in 1787, the delegates from these thirteen would form the federal government whose authority would eventually span across fifty states.
These statesmen concluded that a body of elected representatives would be the best way to form laws for a country that was broken up into smaller entities. Delegates from larger states created dissension by arguing for representation based on population. The delegates from smaller states felt cheated and refused to agree to this proposed structure, known as the Virginia Plan.
A delegate from New Jersey, a small state, responded by introducing a plan that proposed equal representation for each state. This suggestion was called the New Jersey Plan and mirrored the structure outlined in the Articles of Confederation, the document acting as a sort of temporary constitution at that time. Both sides of the debate threatened to leave the convention if their plan wasn’t used, and the situation looked grim.
It was Roger Sherman, a delegate from Connecticut, who offered the Great Compromise as a solution. His bicameral (two-bodied) system would satisfy both large and small states: he proposed a House of Representatives that would represent states proportionally by population and a Senate that would represent all states equally. Thus began the representative system seen in the U.S. today.
As each new state was added to the union over time, two more senators were added to the Senate. In 1959, the present body of 100 senators was complete, with two senators representing each of the 50 states.
Each senator serves a six-year term with the chance of reelection at the end of this period. In order to be elected as a senator, an individual must be at least 30 years old and have been a U.S. citizen for nine years. Leading this body is the Vice President, who is elected alongside the President every four years.
Senators also belong to smaller bodies within the Senate called “committees” that handle specific tasks. These committees are usually composed of 7 to 15 members, each of whom has extensive power.
– Jacob Hess
Sources: FAIR.org, Senate.gov