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.
The United States Congress
The United States Congress creates the laws of the United States and appropriates funds for the Federal government. It first met in New York City on March 4, 1789 and now meets at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Congress is bicameral, which means that it has two bodies: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
To create U.S. law, three things must happen:
- Introduction of a bill in either the House or the Senate.
- Passage of an identical version of the bill in both the House and the Senate.
- Signature of the bill by the President, or in the case of a presidential veto, a vote to pass by two-thirds of both the House and the Senate.
The House: Chamber of the People
The House is the legislative body closest to the people. Unlike in the Senate, where each state has two Senators, the number of members in the House from each state is based on population – and ranges from one member for the entire state to over 50. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives, each of whom represents an average of 650,000 citizens, and 6 non-voting delegates from U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
The Membership of the House
Each member of Congress serves as a local advocate for legislation and provides assistance working with the Federal government. Each seat in the House is up for reelection every two years. To be elected to the House, the U.S. Constitution requires that each member be:
- At least 25 years of age
- A U.S. citizen for at least seven years
- A resident of the state from which they are elected.
More information about Congress is available from the following links: