1. Structure U.S. Congress


100 Senators

Two members from each state elected to 6-year

Each member of the Senate represents his/her state, but helps make laws for the entire United States


House of Representatives:

435 Representatives, one per Congressional District, which is delineated according to the size of the state’s population (census taken every 10 years). There may be many districts within a state; representation depends on population size, but each state is guaranteed one representative. One member in each C.D. is elected for a 2-year term. The majority group takes control. Each member of the House represents his/her district, but helps make laws for the entire United States

2.  Powers of Congress- Both the Senate and House of Representatives:

1. Pass bills and send them to the President

2. Declare war

3. Propose Constitutional amendments, send them to the states

4. Provide constituents’ requested services (casework)

5. Establish and maintain armed forces

6. Raise taxes

7. Spend money

8. Controls interstate commerce

9. Authority to make laws necessary to carry out its

    explicit grants of authority

3.  Powers Special to Each Chamber


1.       Confirm Presidential appointments

2.       Ratify treaties

3.       Try impeached President, federal judges or justices

House of Representatives:

1.       Begin tax bills

2.       Begin spending bills

3.       Impeach the President, federal judges or justices


4.     Committee System and Seniority Rule for Committee Chair Position

A.     Kinds of Committees

·         Standing /permanent

·         Select/ ad hoc

·         Joint

·         Conference

B.   Most Powerful Committees

·         Finance/ Ways & Means (taxation)

·         Appropriations

·         Budget

·         Foreign Relations

·         Rules (only House of Representatives)

5        Steps from Bill to Law – 823 (p. 124F)

Note: For the expenditure of funds, both the authorization and appropriation bills must follow each of the steps. Both houses may propose legislation, which need approval from both houses in order for it to become law.

1.       A bill is introduced by a member of the Senate or the House of Representatives, often at the request of the President

2.       It is referred to different committees in that house for study, revisions and approval.

3.       Then it is sent to the floor for debate and amendments.

4.       Once the bill is approved by that chamber, is sent to the other, where it will undergo study in committees and floor  vote.

5.       When both houses have passed the bill, a conference committee consisting of members from both House and Senate come together to work out differences between the Senate version and House of Representatives version.

6.       Bill is sent back to the Senate and the House of Representatives for final approval.

7.       When the bill is approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, it is sent to the president, who can let the bill become law without a signature, allow it to become law by signing it, or veto it by returning it to Congress.

8.       Congress may override a veto by 2/3 majority vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, but this cannot happen it the President has pocket-vetoed the bill by refusing to sign it during the last 10 days Congress is in session.


1.     Leaders of the House of Representatives, Senate/ Presidential succession

A.     Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Dennis Hastert, R- Illinois, becomes President if the President and Vice President are unable to serve.

B.      Majority leaders and whips- The majority leader is (by custom, the most senior member of majority party) the most influential person in the Senate. Having access to information, control over communications and agendas, and knowledge of institutions, he holds considerable influence over the workings of the Senate (Ross, 148). The whip assists the leader.

C.    Minority leaders and whips-the minority party in the Senate and House of Representatives also chooses its leader and assistant leader.


1.     Demographic Composition  of Congress

A. Sex: 48 women in the House, 6 in Senate in 1993

B. Occupation: Multiple occupations, mainly lawyers; and people in business, pp.159-160

C. Religion: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, p.158F