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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

Important Job of a SenatorThe job of a senator is to act on behalf of the American people in legislative sessions to ensure the voice of the common citizen is heard. Each of the 50 U.S. states has two Senate representatives. Discussed below are the most important aspects of the job of a senator.

 

The Job of a Senator: Key Aspects

 

Represent Constituents
The most important job of a senator is to represent the people. A senator speaks with citizens about problems, concerns or suggestions they have for their district.

People elect their senators with the expectation that they will fight for legislation that is in the best interest of the average citizen.

Senators’ offices take phone calls and emails from citizens who want to share their opinions. They then review the information  they receive to find out the stances of their constituents on various issues.

 

Inform the Public
In addition to gathering information from members of the community, a state senator shares information with the public.

A senator must be proactive and diplomatic. They may make many visits to schools, clubs and other organizations who want to learn more about the legislative process.

Senators also hold press conferences, give speeches and speak with the media in order to educate people on current issues and inform them of current legislation.

Additionally, if a constituent is having difficulty working with a government agency, they can contact their state senator to help facilitate interaction and strengthen their voice.

 

Serve on Committees
Senators are required to serve on Senate committees. Each committee has a different focus such as health, education, business or national security.

At each scheduled committee meeting, members listen to presentations from lobbyists, organizations and other interested parties on important topics. Afterward, senators debate new bills and propose amendments to existing legislature.

 

Introduce Legislation
A senator also uses constituent feedback to identify new laws that need to be passed. Senators work with their staff to research topics, identify issues and propose laws to protect citizens.

An important part of the job of a senator is to be active and vocal in order to get as much publicity and support for a bill as possible. They consistently network with fellow Senate members and organizations to convince others why supporting their bill is important and just.

A finalized bill will pass through several committees on its way to the Senate floor for a full vote.

If said bill originated in the Senate, it is passed on to the House of Representatives for approval by Congress. If approved by Congress, the bill goes to the president to be signed into law or vetoed.

 

So what are the differences between the Senate and Congress?

The Senate and the Congress share the responsibility of drafting and passing legislature for law. However, each body has differing structures and powers.

According to AllGov’s website, the Senate is known as a “continuing body,” because its members are only up for reelection every six years, whereas members of Congress are reelected every two years. Additionally, while the rules of procedure for Congress are re-adopted for every new session, the rules of the Senate have remained continuous since 1789.

The Senate also has the sole power to approve or reject nominations by the president and treaties with foreign governments by a two-thirds vote.

Taylor Resteghini

Sources: AllGov, United States Senate, United States House of Representatives
Photo: Flickr

how-to-run-for-congress
Have you ever wondered how to run for Congress? If you want to influence politics outside of citizen activism or local government, then running for Congress is a great next-level option. Follow these 8 steps to Washington, D.C. and make a lasting impact on Congressional issues.

1. Build a resume – It is important to note that successful Congressional candidates do not have identical resumes. It is encouraged to have a wide variety of political background, and a lifetime of experience to show that you are an ideal candidate for the United States Congress. Previous work experience of most people in Congress involves being a lawyer, but the exceptions to this rule often include physicians and students with graduate degrees in political science.

2. Avoid mistakes – Seems impossible, right? This step is probably the most likely to deter the “average joe” from running. Many congressional leaders have cheated and lied before to get their seat. However, these mistakes are usually overlooked if they are in the distant past.

Just like in the movies, it is important to disclose anything and everything that might be incriminating politically or morally so supporters are not surprised later. Conversely, a flawless record can be your undoing in and of itself. If one minor mistake is made on a flawless record, it could mean the end of a career. Best to maintain a healthy, human balance with any potential mistakes.

3. Go to College and study the structure and role of Congress – A university degree is not listed as one of the qualifications for candidacy. However, your fellow candidates are almost guaranteed to have a degree. On top of that, a consistent education in government or political science will help any candidate in Congress.

4. Run for local government and start building a name for yourself – First, “test the waters.” Try and gauge how likely your are to win a candidacy. One classic path to the Congressional seat is starting at the local government level. An active role in local government will not only show a positive humble beginning and connection to your roots, it will impress voters. In addition, running for local office is great experience and gives the opportunity to test campaign strategies.

5. Start fundraising – It is extremely difficult to achieve any sort of political good without monetary help. In order to promote your own election, you are going to need to fundraise for advertising, traveling, and payroll for your committees. Choosing a good staff that subscribes to the ideals you want to fight for is crucial for a cohesive team. In addition, you may need an assistant or a speechwriter.

6. File ballot paperwork – Make sure you are a resident of the state in which you are applying for a Congressional seat and are at least 25 years old.

7. Campaign, campaign, campaign – Organize a campaign with your staff to travel as much as possible and meet as many voters as you can. Meeting voters personally is crucial for a successful winning campaign. Hire a professional marketing team to ensure that all of your campaign media is consistent with your campaign strategy.

8. Vote! – When the time comes, revel in the sight of your name on the ballot, and don’t forget to vote for yourself!

We often forget that we do live in a democracy. And although money and fame can get in the way, the information on running for congress is available to the public and you can and should run if you are able.

All registration forms to run for Congress are available for download from the Information Division, Federal Election Commission, Washington D.C., or by calling the toll free number, 1.800.424.9530.

– Kali Faulwetter
Source: WikiHow,FEC
Photo: Business Insider