Congress is the overall name for both houses. It is made up of two houses - The House of Representatives and the Senate, as it is made up of two houses it is therefore bicameral.
The term 'congressman' refers only to members of the House of Representatives. Members of the Senate are called 'Senators'.
In the House of representatives there are 435 members. Each state has a certain number of members proportional to the population of the state. Each member represents a district. By the time of 2002 elections, Californa had 53 representatives, while Wyoming had just one. Members are elected for 2 year terms and the constitution states that to be a member of the House you must:
- Be atleast 25
- Have been a US citizen for atleast 7 years
- Be a resident of the state in which your district is situated.
The number of women and african-american member in the House has increased quite significantly over the past 30 years. Especially in the 1992 elections know as 'the year of them woman'. But the 75 women still represent only 17% of the membership, well below the percentage they make up of the US electorate. For african americans, the 39 members represent only 9%, only slightly below their 10% in society as a whole.
In the Senate there are 100 members. Each state has 2 senators. Each senator represents the entire state, They are elected for 6 year terms. One-third of the senate is up for re-election every 2 years.The constitution states that to be a senator you must:
- Be atleast 30
- Have been a US citizen for atleast 9 years
- Be a resident of the State you represent.
The number of women members has increased recently but still stands at a proportionately low number. Following the defeat of Democrat Carol Moseley Braun in 1998, there were no african american senators until the election og Barack Obama in 2004. Following his election as President, the illionois state governor appointed another african american, Rolan Burris to fill the vacancy. Just under half of the current senate are former member of the house of representatives. This indicates the percieved power and prestige of the senate compared to the house.
The House of Representatives exclusive powers
- To begin consideration of all money bills.
- To impeach any member of the executive or judicial branches of federal government.
- To elect the President if the Electoral College is deadlocked.
The Founding fathers gave the House the power to begin consideration of all money bills because it was the only directly elected chamber at that time.
Impeachment is the act of making a formal accusation against any member of the other two branches. For example, in 1998, when the House impeached President Clinton on two counts - perjury and obstruction of justice, over his affair with Monica Lewinski. President Clinton was the 17th person to be impeached by the House since the first case in 1797.
The power to elect the President if the electoral college…