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THE SENATE

The U.S. Senate is the upper house of Congress. Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate consists of two senators for each state, regardless of that state's population. This ensures equal representation for each state. Hence, there are 100 Senators.

Senators serve six-year terms, however, senate elections are held every two years to ensure that no state ever holds an election in which both Senate seats are in contention. Elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years. Senators must be thirty years of age, a citizen of the United States for the prior nine years, and must live in the state they seek to represent. Much of the work done in the Senate is performed in committees. 16 standing committees, each with a specific category (such as foreign relations, judicial review, or finance) edit, amend, and consider bills related to those categories.

Powers exclusive to the Senate include the approval of treaties as a condition to their ratification, and the approval of federal judges and cabinet members as a condition of their appointment. The Senate also tries impeachments. An impeachment is a legal statement of charges against an official. The Senate only has the power to try impeachment

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The U.S. House of Representatives is one of the two houses of Congress. Unlike the Senate, a state’s number of representatives is based on its population. States with large populations have more representatives than states with small populations. The state of California, America ’s most populous state, currently has 55 representatives. There are 435 total representatives and each serves a two-year term. Representatives must be 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for seven years, and a resident of the state they wish to represent.

 

Like the Senate, the House of Representatives performs much of its legislative work in committees. The House of Representatives has 20 standing committees. These committees meet to review, amend, edit, and consider bills specific to certain categories such as agriculture, revenue, or foreign relations.

The top officer of the House of Representatives is referred to as the Speaker of the House. He or she is elected by other members of the House and has substantial powers including choosing the order in which other representatives speak, choosing members of conference committees, and choosing which committees reviews specific bills.

The House of Representatives has exclusive powers including the right to impeach, to initiate revenue bills (those involving money), and to elect the president in the case of an electoral tie.