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How to Become a Member of Congress
At one point or another, I am sure many people have wondered how to become a member of Congress. Is it as simple as getting a few campaign donations and a few votes, or is there a bit more to it?

There are really three key aspects that need to be satisfied to become a member of Congress. The constitutional requirements, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing requirements and then the overarching personal qualities that voters are looking for from their leaders. Below I have summarized the items needed to identify how to become a member of Congress.

 

How to Become a Member of Congress: Requirements and Qualifications

 

Constitutional Requirements

These requirements are highlighted in Article 1, Section 2 of the US constitution:

  1. Be at least 25 years of age.
  2. Have been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years.
  3. Be (at the time of election) a resident of the state you are elected to represent.

If you can satisfy these three basic requirements, then you are eligible. But eligibility is the easy part.

 

FEC Filing Requirements

  1. Once an individual’s campaign activity exceeds $5,000 in either contributions or expenditures, they must register.
  2. Within fifteen days of that cap being hit, the candidate must file a Statement of Candidacy.
  3. Then the candidate must identify a principal campaign committee. Once that committee is formed, the candidate has 10 days to file a Statement of Organization.
  4. Lastly, once the committee is formed, it cannot accept contributions for the campaign until a Treasurer is established within the committee. The treasurer is the only one that may sign FEC reports and statements on behalf of the campaign.

Now that you have the FEC requirements satisfied, we need to examine what qualities voters are looking for. The requirements are just a part of how to become a member of congress.

 

Top 5 Qualities of Political Leaders

  1. Honesty
  2. Compassion
  3. Integrity
  4. Confidence
  5. Flexibility

 

As obvious as these may be, this is the core of what voters want from their elected officials. A recent Gallup poll showed that 53% of Americans want their leaders to compromise, opposed to 21% that wanted their leaders to stick to their principles. The ability to compromise reflects all of these five qualities.

If you follow the steps above, you can take the first step on your journey to start enacting the change you want to see in the world by becoming a member of Congress.

Brian Faust

Photo: Flickr

Difference Between a Congressman and a Senator
There is widespread confusion regarding the difference between a congressman and a senator. While it’s clear that a senator is a member of the Senate, does the term “congressman” include senators, or does it refer exclusively to members of the House of Representatives? And what comprises the “Congress” of the United States?

The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 1, says, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

Merriam-Webster defines “Congress” as “a particular congress; especially: the congress of the United States that includes the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

So, both the Senate and House of Representatives make up the U.S. Congress. Shouldn’t this mean that the term “congressman” applies equally to both a senator and a representative?

According to Merriam-Webster, a “congressman” is “someone (especially a man) who is a member of a congress and especially of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Unwritten Rules: The Difference Between a Congressman and a Senator

Herein lies the central confusion. It is technically correct to use the term “congressman” in relation to any elected representative from either House or Senate. However, it is also clear that when a person refers to a “congressman,” they are more often than not referring to a representative from the House.

This situation is further complicated by the gender-specific nature of the term “congressman.” In its place, it is possible to use the gender-neutral term “congressperson,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “a congressman or congresswoman.” The website for the U.S. House of Representatives affirms that the terms “congressman” and “congresswoman” are equally valid.

Having determined the appropriate designations for each type of elected representative, it is worth noting that there are some other basic differences between a senator and a member of the House of Representatives.

The guidelines for the election and apportionment of each are outlined in the United States Constitution, and by subsequent amendments to the Constitution.

Representatives and senators both are elected by popular vote in each state in the U.S. However, while each state elects exactly two senators per term, the number of representatives per state are apportioned according to the state’s population.

Representatives are elected for two-year terms, and senators are elected for six-year terms. To be eligible for appointment as a representative in the House, an individual must be at least 25 years old and have been a U.S. citizen for seven years. The eligibility requirements of senators are slightly stricter, as an individual must be at least 30 years old and have been a U.S. citizen for nine years to be elected as a senator. In either case, the individual must be a resident of the state in which they are running for office.

While the House has the power to vote on impeachment, the Senate has the power to conduct the trial of the impeached individual.

The Senate has exclusive powers, including the fact that treaties cannot be ratified without the Senate’s consent. Senators also confirm presidential appointments to office, such as appointments for justices of the Supreme Court.

Legislation, however, must be approved and ratified by both the House and the Senate before it can be enacted.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: Flickr

Who is my Congressman
Have you ever wondered who speaks on behalf of the voters for the area you live in? There may be a number of issues that citizens are passionate about and even push for bills supporting their causes to be passed. So the real question, then, becomes who is my congressman? Who is designated to speak on behalf of myself and neighbors of those in power to change what is going on?

It is a question that should be asked by every young adult registering to vote and even veteran voters that may not be as conscious of the person currently representing them in office. Sure, we see their names on papers, maybe even in emails, but many times that is where it stops. So when you ask yourself who your congressman is, you may not be able to answer further than a name on a sheet of paper.

The Congress is made up of 100 U.S. Senators and 435 U.S. Representatives in the House of Representatives. The number of representatives for any state depends on the population, not the size. For example, there are 27 representatives for the state of Florida, compared to the 7 representatives for Alabama.

Congress makes up the federal government alongside the President. Both branches determine how much funding goes to programs ranging from healthcare to programs related to living conditions of the world’s poor. That means that members of the congress play a very important role in the lives of people around the world.

Members of the House of Representatives are commonly referred to as Congressmen or Congresswomen. Each representative is responsible for a district in your state depending on how many representatives you have. States with larger populations, like New York, will likely have different representatives for neighboring cities and areas.

It is important to educate yourself on who will be representing you in the federal government. Regardless of how we may feel about a particular representative, these individuals are selected to speak on behalf of “the people.” Not only do they represent the voters of their respective states, but they stand for whatever changes voters wish to enact and even stop.

Just as Congress has a heavy influence on U.S. funding, citizens have just as much influence on members of congress in their respectable districts. When asked who my Congressman is, I answer with confidence, Representative Ron Desantis, Republican.

Janelle Mills

Sources: The Borgen Project, EDHP
Photo: Wall Street Daily