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How many Members of Congress
How many Members of Congress are there? 535. In the United States, the government consists of three equally powerful branches that are intended to check one another to ensure that no one branch exceeds its purview. These branches are the judicial, the executive and the legislative branches. The legislative branch is the branch that houses the totality of Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The legislative branch is responsible for drafting and passing bills that are then sent to the President of the United States, or the executive branch, for signage and finalization. Although the Senate and the House work together under the auspices of Congress, on a day-to-day basis, they function separately from one another.

 

How Many Members of Congress in Each Chamber

 

The Senate consists of 100 members, two from each state in the United States determined relatively in a straightforward way. The only possible change in the size of the Senate could come from the admission of a new state into the union, according to VoteTocracy.

A senatorial term is six years in length with approximately “one-third of the total membership of the Senate” elected every two years, according to the United States Senate website.

The number of members in the House of Representatives, on the other hand, is a more complex determination. Although the number of members of the House is stably 435, the power and jurisdiction that these members hold is subject to change and is often in flux.

The 435 members of the House represent the 435 congressional districts of the United States. According to the Constitution, these “political subdivisions have about equal populations, to maintain the ‘one person, one vote’ standard.”

Aside from the simple standard of approximately equal population distribution, there are difficult political contests involved in drawing the definitive lines of these districts and this process, termed gerrymandering, which are responsible for constant congressional battles.

In addition to the members of Congress who represent the 50 states, there is a delegate sent from the District of Columbia who holds minimal to no voting privilege.

The segments of Congress total 535 members with voting privileges and an additional delegate from the District of Columbia. In order for the legislative body of our nation to run smoothly, each and every member must dutifully serve his role.

Liz Pudel

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 the 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

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
Photo: Flickr