The Constitution and the Legislative Branch of Government
The Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 provided for the direct election of senators. Article I creates the legislative branch of government. Congress is a bicameral institution. The upper house is called the Senate in which each state receives two representatives, and the lower house is called the House of Representatives that is apportioned by population. The Senate has a six-year term with 1/3 of the seats up for reelection every two years, and the House has a two-year term. Originally, senators were chosen by state legislatures. Apportionment and Redistricting
The first House was set at 65 members or one representative for every 37,000 persons. The Constitution requires that all Americans be counted every ten years by a census. The census would then determine the representation in the House of Representatives. Since the Constitution requires the House to be based on population, a fixed number of seats demands that after each census the House seats be redistributed as populations shift-this is called redistricting or reapportionment . As the population grew, the House became larger. In 1910, the House reached 435 members and in 1929 the size was fixed by statute. Constitutional Powers of Congress
The House has 435 members and all money bills must originate, and the impeachment of executive and judicial officials must occur, in the House. It tries impeachment cases and can remove officials with a 2/3rds vote. The Senate also provides advice and consent on presidential appointments and treaties with a 2/3rds vote. The House, being a much larger body, tends to be more formal, centralized, and has stronger leadership. The Rules Committee exists only in the House and exercises substantial control over time and rules of debate in conjunction with the Speaker. The House is impersonal, more partisan, and its members are highly specialized. The Senate is less centralized, less formal, and has weaker leadership. The Senate has the possibility of filibustering-talking a bill to death-that can only be limited through a cloture vote The Speaker of the House
The Speaker is the only House officer mentioned in the Constitution. The Speaker is elected at the beginning of each new session of Congress by the entire House. The Speaker and all committee chairs are members of the majority party in Congress (this is not a rule, but a political fact). Generally a Speaker serves until he/she leaves the House, chooses to step down, or if his/her party loses the majority. The Speaker presides over the House, oversees House business, is the official spokesperson for the House, and is second in line of presidential succession (if the president and vice president both died, the Speaker would become president). The Speaker is expected to be a liaison with the president and promote his/her parties' legislation through the Congress.. Majority leader-second most important person in the House
Majority whip(s)-maintain contacts and rally support on the floor among the majority party Minority leader-leader of the minority party. In 2004, the first woman was elected as minority leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Minority whip(s)-maintain contacts and rally support among minority party members. In 2002, the first woman was elected minority whip, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
The presiding officer of the Senate, according to the Constitution, is the vice president of the United States. He is not a member of the Senate and can only vote in case of a tie. The official chair of the Senate is the president pro tempore who is selected by the majority party and presides in lieu of the vice president. It is primarily an honorific office with few duties and no power. The president pro tempore is usually the senior senator of the majority party. Usually junior senators actually preside over the Senate. The true power in the Senate is the majority leader who is elected by the majority party....