Congress of the United States, the legislature of the United States of America is established under the Constitution of 1789. It is structurally separate from the executive and judicial branches of the government. The United States Senate is the upper House of the United States Congress, and the House of Representatives is the lower House of the United States Congress. Together, both these houses make up the legislature of the United States. Although the two chambers are separate for the most part, the House and Senate are equal partners in the legislative process, and the legislation cannot be acted without the consent of both chambers. Congress must assemble at least once in a year and must agree on the date of convening and adjourning. The decided time for convening, according to the Twentieth Amendment, is January 3. The House and the Senate vote the date for adjournment. Congress must also come together in a joint session to count the electoral votes for the President and the Vice President.
United States Senate
The United States Senate, the upper House of the United States Congress, was established in 1789 under the Constitution. Each state elects two senators for six years. One-third of the Senate membership expires every two years. It is hence also nicknamed as “the house that never dies”. The role of the Senate is to provide equal representation to each state regardless of their size and population. Washington, D.C. houses the chamber of the United States Senate. Election to the Senate was indirect up till 1913 and changed to direct election by the Seventeenth Amendment. The Senate shares responsibility with the House of Representatives for law-making within the United States of America.
The Senate has exclusive powers which are not granted to the House of Representative. The powers include the authority to consent to treaties before giving it for consent, confirming the appointment of -- Cabinet secretaries, federal judges and executives, military officers, regulatory officials, ambassadors, and other federal uniformed officers. The Senate is also responsible for trying federal officials that have been impeached by the House.
The qualifications for Senators are as follows:
- They must be at least 30 years old.
- They must have the citizenship of the United States of America for at least nine years.
- They must be an inhabitant of the state they are representing.
House of Representatives
The House of Representatives is the lower House of the United States Congress which was established in 1789 by the Constitution of the United States. It shares equal responsibilities of law-making with the Senate. The House is designed to give a voice to people of every local voting region of America. Members of the House stand for reelection every two years. Each state is split into districts and each district votes for one representative. The number of districts depends on the population of each state. The candidate with the most number of votes wins the seat in the House, and the party with the most number of seats takes control.
The primary responsibility of the House is to pass federal legislation that affects the whole country. For the bill to become a law the Senate has to agree and the United States President has to finally sign it. The House, like the Senate, has special powers too. These include the power to initiate revenue bills, to impeach officials, and to elect the President in case there is no majority in the Electoral College.
The House is organised in the committee system, under which the membership is divided into specialised committees like committees for holding hearings, preparing bills for the consideration of the entire House, and regulating the House procedure. The member of the majority party chairs these committees. Almost all bills are first referred to the respective committee. There are approximately 20 permanent committees, each having subcommittees.
The qualifications for members of the House are:
- They must be at least 25 years of age.
- They must be a U.S. citizen for at least seven years.
- They do not need to reside in the constituency that he represents.
Articles that were referred to: