Thursday, February 16, 2017

Civics 101: What Are the House of Representatives and the Senate? And What is Congress?

Remember, there are three branches to our government:
Legislative--The Senate and the House of Representatives, which discusses the laws of the country and can pass new laws
Judiciary-- The Supreme Court, which decides matters of legality according to the way the law is written in the Constitution
Executive-- The President, Vice President, the Cabinet, and different agencies of our government.

Congress-the combined Senate and House of Representatives- meets in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
The Senate...
  • Is made up of 100 representatives, two per state, and that does not vary. They serve a 6 year term. There are various positions up for re-election every 2 years.
  • Has to approve the people appointed for the Cabinet, Supreme Court judges, the secretaries of various agencies and military officers.
  • Has to work with the House of Representatives when passing legislation
  • Our 2 senators from Minnesota are Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. You can get in touch with them, and find out your district, here:

The Senate. Notice the observers up in the balcony.
The House of Representatives....
  • Has members based on the population of each state. Some states have just 1 representative: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. California, the most populous state, has the most at 53.
  • Minnesota has 8 Representatives: Here are their names alphabetically with their districts:
  • Keith Ellison (D) Website - Minnesota 5th
  • Tom Emmer (R) Website - Minnesota 6th
  • Jason Lewis (R) Website - Minnesota's 2nd
  • Betty McCollum (D) Website - Minnesota 4th
  • Rick Nolan (D) Website - Minnesota 8th
  • Erik Paulsen (R) Website - Minnesota 3rd
  • Collin Peterson (D) Website - Minnesota 7th
  • Tim Walz (D) Website - Minnesota 1st
  • To serve in the House, a person must be 25 years of age, a US citizen for 7 years, and must live in the state he/she represents.
  • Representatives serve a two year term.
  • In the House there are also delegates from American-held territories, including Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and a Commissioner from Puerto Rico.
  • Any legislation that involves raising taxes starts in the House but must be approved by the Senate as well.
  • The President has the power to pass or veto a bill ONLY when the House and Senate have voted and come to a 2/3 consensus; that is, if 2/3 of the votes were in favor of passing a law, the President can sign it into law. If 2/3 of the votes were to not pass it, then the President can finish it by veto and it will not become law.

More people, bigger space: House of Representatives. This is a State of the Union address by President Obama.
The Senate and House of Representatives, together, form the Congress or just Congress. Think of it as a 'congregation' of people--both combined make one Congress.
Here is a really good and simple explanation:

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