The US government consists of 3 branches: the Executive, the Legislature or Congress and the Judiciary. The Congress is tasked with lawmaking. The Congress consists of two chambers namely: the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are numerous similarities and differences between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The U.S. Senate consists of a total of 100 members. The 50 states in the U.S elect 100 members each. On the other hand, there are 435 House of Representatives. The number of House of Representatives varies from one state to another depending on the population of that state. Smaller states have less representation compared to the bigger states. For instance, Vermont is only represented by on member while Michigan has 14 members in the House of Representatives.
An individual qualifies to vie for membership of the Senate if: "he/she is 30 years of age or more, he/she has been a U.S citizen for not less than 9 years; he/she must reside in the state in which he/she would like to be a representative" (Congress, U.S. 101). Anyone who fails to meet any of these requirements automatically seizes to be a qualified candidate for the Senate. On the other hand, an individual is eligible to vie for a position in the House of Representatives if: "he/she is 25 years of age or more, he/she has been a U.S citizen for not less than 7 years, and he/she must also be resident of the state in which he/she wishes to represent" (Congress, U.S 101).
The term difference between the Senators and elected House members is 4 years. An individual serves for two terms in the House of Representatives before seeking re-election. On the other hand, Senators stay in office for six years. Only a third of the Senate is considered for re-election every two years.
The Senate and the House of Representatives can also be differentiated based on their powers. The House of Representatives is the initiator of every bill intended to raise revenue prescribed in the constitution. The House of Representative also has the power to initiate an impeachment motion against the president for the good of the country. On the other hand, the Senate has the power to try to impeach elected officials. This would require two-thirds of the senators to be successful. It also has the power to approve various presidential appointees in addition to approving all the treaties entered into by the President with other nations.
The leadership of both chambers also differs in many ways. "In the House of Representatives, the Speaker acts as the presiding officer."(Congress, U.S 386). More importantly, he stands 3rd in line to the Presidency behind the president and vice president. The majority of his power in the house comes from his power to select chairs and members of House Committees. Below the speaker in the power rankings of the House of Representatives is the Majority leader and the minority leader. On the other hand, the country's vice president is the leader or presiding of the Senate. He is addressed as President of the Senate. However, he rarely comes to Senate sittings. His role is only important when he is required to be present to break a vote tie.
The two chambers have specific roles when trying to pass a law. Initially, a bill is sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives. A committee then gets assigned to study the contents of the bill. When the committee releases the bill, a date is selected on which a vote, debate, and amendment will take place. A simple majority passing the bill moves it to the Senate. This is where the role of the Senate differs from that of the house. Here another committee is assigned the bill and upon being released, debate and voting take place again. If a majority passes the bill a combined committee, of the House and the Senate, is formed to deliberate on their differences. The bills are then ordered back to the respective house for final approval. The bill is then printed and signed by the President within 10days.Apart from the numerous differences, the two chambers are similar in that both houses are part of the U.S Congress and a bill can be initiated from either of the two chambers. Additionally, before a bill can be delivered to the president for assent, it must be approved by a two-thirds majority of each of the houses.
Overall, there are numerous similarities and differences between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The different roles that members of these two chambers play complement each other to move the country forward. The structures that have been put in place are what ensure a smooth transition of roles in the government.
Congress, U. S. "House." Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs."Providing for the Designation of Certain Public Lands as Wilderness in the State of Arizona." H. Rept , 1990, pp.101-405.
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