The Senate and the House: who will take majority?
This Tuesday, voters will elect more than the next President of the United States of America. While choosing the next man or woman to take the oval office is important, those who will fill the seats of Congress are just as crucial to the future and direction of the country.
According to the U.S. Capitol website, the role of Congress is to make laws that influence the daily lives of the American people. Congress also informs the legislative process, investigates the executive branch, and serves as the voice of Americans in the federal government. Congress as a whole has the ability to make laws, declare war, raise money and supervise proper expenditure, impeach federal officers, approve presidential appointments, and approve treaties.
The United States Congress is broken down into a bicameral legislation. This means that the legislators are divided into two different houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Both houses have equal yet different roles in making Congress function smoothly and fairly.
“The Lower House”
Number of Representatives
The number of representatives per state within the House of Representatives is proportionate to the state’s population. Each state is granted at least one representative, and one additional representative is given per several hundred thousand people. There are currently 435 members in the House. Each representative represents one congressional district in his or her state.
Elections for the House occur every two years and each representative serves for a single two-year term. In contrast, members of the Senate hold office for a six-year term and typically make the decisions regarding big picture issues.
Representatives of the House must be at least 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and inhabit the state they are to represent.
Who is in charge?
The House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker of the House, who maintains order with the use of a gavel. The Speaker always belongs to the majority party represented in the House. The current Speaker of the House is Republican Paul Ryan.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate hold the power to initiate bills. However, the Constitution states that bills regarding revenue must be initiated within the House. It is the responsibility of the House to raise these bills, but the Senate has the power either to amend or reject them. The House also has the power to impeach officials and nominate the President in the event that there is tie between the Electoral College votes.
“The Upper House”
Number of Representatives
In comparison to the House of Representatives, the number of members of the Senate has nothing to do with population per state. Each state is represented by two senators who serve staggered six-year terms.
Senators serve a six-year-long term. However, the elections for seats in the Senate are on a cycle so that about one-third of the positions are open for election every two years. The style of this endless cycle led the Senate to be nicknamed “the house that never dies.” This style of election protects the public from being massively swayed by circumstances within a two year period.
Senators up for election must be at least 30-years-old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and they must be inhabitants of the state they are to represent during the time of the election.
Who is in charge?
The President of the Senate is also the Vice President of the United States, currently Joe Biden. They also have a majority party leader, Mitch McConnell, and a minority party leader, Harry Reid.
The Senate, along with the House of Representatives, shares the duty of all lawmaking within the United States. For an act to pass through Congress, both houses must give authorization. For treaties to be ratified, two-thirds majority of all senators must give their approval.
For any important public nominations, such as cabinet members of judges of the Supreme Court, there must be a simple majority of senate rule. Additionally, any presidential impeachment proceedings offered by the House of Representatives must be granted with a two-thirds majority from the Senate to convict.
Written by Abby Gentry, Asst. News Editor