Congressmen and Congresswomen

In simple terms, Congressmen and Congresswomen are members of the U.S. Congress who are elected to represent the people in their districts. Congressmen and Congresswomen create and pass legislation and hold hearings. Congress also plays an essential role in passing laws, because all bills must be passed by Congress before they go to the president to be signed into law.

Congress is split into two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 435 members, whereas the Senate has only 100 members. Each state has two senators, but the number of representatives a state has is based on its population. For example, California, a considerably large state, has 53 representatives, more than any other U.S. state.

In order to be a member of the House, a person has to be at least 25 years of age, a resident of his or her state at the time of the election, and have had U.S. citizenship for at least seven years. The Senate also requires members to be residents of his or her state at the time of election, though Senators must be at least 30 years of age and have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years.

The requirements to hold office in Congress originate in British law. When creating the requirements, the founders made the age restriction for the House lower because it was designed to be the closest to the people and therefore less restrictive. The idea of having a higher age requirement for the Senate was because senators have duties that require more knowledge and character stability.

Aside from the differences in requirements to hold each position, the House and Senate also have different election cycles. Congressmen and Congresswomen in the House serve only two-year terms, whereas members of the Senate serve six-year terms. House elections happen every even year, but Senate elections are staggered during even years so that in any given election, only one-third of the Senate is up for reelection.

There are many differences between the House and the Senate, such as how long it takes each body to pass a bill. The House can pass a bill as quickly as in one day, whereas a bill can be debated on the Senate floor for two to three weeks.

The House operates based on committees and subcommittees, which are used to review bills and operate as an oversight for the executive branch of the U.S. government. This body’s main power is to pass federal legislation, though that legislation also has to go through the Senate and the president before becoming a law. The House also has the power to try federal officers for high crimes and misdemeanors, thought the Senate has the right to try the House’s impeachment.

Among the main powers of the Senate is the power to consent to treaties. The Senate’s consent to a treaty is required before a treaty can be ratified. The Senate also has the power to confirm the appointments of Cabinet secretaries and other federal officials and officers.

Each state has two senators to represent the state’s population, but a representative’s constituency is smaller, being only the population of their district. Congressmen and Congresswomen play an essential role in passing bills so that they can become laws after signed off on by the president. Though Congressmen and Congresswomen have many different tasks, their ultimate job is to represent their constituents in the U.S. government.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr