Bicameral Legislature – does the House or the Senate have more power?
Our Founding Father’s created a bicameral legislature for three reasons: First, it was what they knew, their ideologies came from Britain. The British Parliament has two houses; the House of Commons and the House of Lords (Shmoop Editorial Team). Second, was the emphasis on checks and balances. An unicameral legislature might consolidate too much power, and they also knew from Britain, that could cause corruption. Dividing the chambers provides a check against tyranny (Shmoop Editorial Team). The third was “a matter of practical politics” (Shmoop Editorial Team). Small states wanted all the states to have equal representation in Congress, but the larger (and more populous) states wanted congressional representation to be based on population. A bicameral legislature provided small states with equal representation thru the Senate and House of Representatives gave more populous states proportional representation. As a matter of fact, this solution provided each state with equal representation and is called “the Great Compromise”. “On July 16th, 1787, the convention adopted the Great Compromise by a heart-stopping margin of one vote” (History n.d.). It was said that Thomas Jefferson had criticized the concept of a two chamber legislature and questioned the need for it. “Why”, asked George Washington “did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” (That was the custom at the time.) “To cool it,” replied Jefferson. “Even so,” said Washington, “we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.” (Nickels n.d.) The House of Representatives can be sensitive to popular sentiment and aware of current popular passions, because they know their constituents well. They know their constituents well because they run for re-election every two years. Whereas, the Senate only face their electorate every six years and generally do not know their constituents intimately. This shields Senators of the...
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