How Many Senators Are ThereHow many Senators are there? There are 100 Members of the United States Senate, two from every state. But who are these 100 men and women, and what do they do? This article seeks to answer some of your most basic questions about U.S. Senators.

What are the requirements for being a senator?
A senator must be at least 30-years-old and is required to have been a U.S. citizen for nine years. A senator must also be a resident of the state that he or she represents. Once elected, a senator stays in office for six years.

Elections for the Senate occur every two years, when one-third of the Congressional branch is up for reelection. After a senator’s six-year term ends, he or she can run for reelection an unlimited number of times. At the beginning of the 114th Congress, the average length of service for current senators was 9.7 years.

What does a senator do?
Legislative business takes up most of a senator’s time. Senators work in committees, such as the Foreign Relations Committee and the Budget Committee, to handle legislative matters. When a committee favors a bill, it meets with experts and executive agencies to gather information before adding amendments or changing the bill’s language. Committees can then report out legislation to the full Senate, where debates take place.

Senators also handle executive business when in session. Specifically, the Senate has the power to rule on treaties that the president proposes. Senators also vote to approve or deny cabinet, ambassador and Supreme Court justice appointments.

Who are my senators?
Who your senators are depends on your state of residence. Find my Senators.

How many minorities are represented in the Senate? How many women?
The current 114th Congress is the most diverse in history. However, out of 100 senators, just six belong to racial or ethnic minorities: three Hispanic, two African-American, and one Asian-American. Twenty women currently serve in the Senate, which is three more than served in the 112th Congress. There was no increase in the number of female senators between the 113th and 114th Congresses.

– Caitlin Harrison

Sources: New York Times,United States Senate, United States Senate 2, United States Senate 3,United States Senate 4,United States Senate 5 United States Senate 6, Federation of American Scientists, U.S. Consulate
Photo: United States Senate

Who-is-my-CongressmanTo have your voice heard within the government as a citizen voter, it is important to understand how it can be heard. While there are a variety of ways that a single citizen’s voice can be amplified, one of the most effective is to contact your local congressman. But, who is my Congressman or Congresswoman?

The United States Government website database provides information necessary to get in touch with members of Congress. There are two different databases, one for the United States Senate and the other for the United States House of Representatives.

Directly contacting all of the Congressional representatives for your state proves to be the most effective method for having your voice heard.
While it is most effective to contact the representatives by phone, as their official office numbers will be listed on the database, it is also possible to email them.

Voicing your opinion on a current piece of legislature or on current events within your state influences the amount of leverage on votes, thus influencing political leaders to vote in a particular way. There is no limit to how many times you can voice your opinion on any issue.

It is important to learn about who your congressman is as well.

What positions do they hold on certain issues? How have they voted in the past? This can affect how much influence it takes to have your voice heard.

While having less of an influence, you can contact individuals of another state to voice your opinion, as you can be a catalyst to spark a new piece of legislature that could potentially influence the entire world.

A good way to have your voice heard is to get to know who your local congressmen are, as once you understand how you can make a difference, all you need to do is act.

– Alysha Biemolt

Sources: United States House of Representatives, Houston Chronicle
Photo: Flickr

20 Facts About the U.S. Senate
With a long history, there are no shortage of interesting Senate facts. Below are a few of our favorites.

1.    The word “senator” comes from the Latin word for “old man,” “senex.”

2.    The first Senate met in 1789 in New York City. The Senate soon after moved to Philadelphia in 1790 and then to Washington D.C.  ten years later.

3.    Out of 100 Senate seats, there are just 17 female Senators.  The first female Senator was Rebecca Felton, a Democrat from Georgia in 1922.

4.    U.S. Senators serve six year terms with no term limits.

5.    The first Senators elected were Robert Morris and William Maclay from Pennsylvania in 1788.

6.    The longest-serving Senator was Robert C. Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia who, in 2009, served for 56 years.

7.    The first black Senator was Hiram Rhodes Revels in 1870,  representing Mississippi after the Reconstruction.

8.    The longest speech was Strom Thurmond’s 1957 filibuster against the Civil Rights Act. He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

9.    Thurmond was also the oldest Senator, retiring at 100 in 2002.

10.  The first son and father team to serve in the Senate was Henry Dodge and Augustus Dodge in 1857 to 1866.

11.   The first radio broadcast from the Senate chambers occurred on March 4, 1929.

12.   C-Span began Senate coverage in 1986.

13.   Tammy Baldwin is the first openly lesbian Senator. She was elected in 2012 and represents Wisconsin.

14.   The first former president to be elected Senator was Andrew Johnson in 1875.

15.   Senator James Shields represented Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri in the late 1800’s.  He is the only Senator to represent three states in his career.

16.   The first woman elected to chair a Senate committee was Hattie Caraway of the Committee on Enrolled Bills in 1933.

17.   There have only been nine Hispanic and Latino American Senators.

18.   There have only been nine African-American Senators, with just three currently in office.

19.   Senators receive a yearly salary of around $165,000.

20.  The youngest senator to serve was John H. Easton of Tennessee, who was 28.

Stephanie Lamm

Sources: U.S. Senate, Feinstein for U.S. Senate, Info Please, Cardin for Senate, News One
Photo: Vintage 3D