TEXT 2: WHAT IS CONGRESS?
Article I of the Constitution of the United States describes the first of the three branches of national government. This is the legislative, or lawmaking, branch. According to this article, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States ..." Congress, then, is the country's lawmaking branch.
One of the most basic features of Congress is the fact that it is bicameral. This means that Congress is made up of two houses. The first, or upper, house is the Senate. The lower house is the House of Representatives.
The Senate is the smaller of the two houses of Congress. It is made up of 100 members, two from each of the 50 states. These members are known as Senators.
QUALIFICATIONS AND REPRESENTATION. The Constitution lists three qualifications for membership in the Senate. A Senator must be at least 30 years old. He or she must have been a citizen of the United States for at least nine years. And, a Senator must live or have residence in the state from which he or she is elected. Each state has two Senators in Congress, regardless of the state's size or population.
|| Senators must:
- Be at least 30 years old.
- Be a U.S. citizen for the past 9 years.
- Live in the state they represent.
ELECTION AND TERMS. Senators are chosen by the people in general elections. These elections are held in November of even-numbered years.
Not every Senate seat, however, comes up for election at the same time every two years. This is because each member of the Senate serves a six-year term in office. The terms are set up so that only one third of the Senate membership comes up for election every two years. In other words, the terms overlap. This is so that a majority of experienced members is always on hand to keep the Senate running smoothly. Because of this, the Senate is known as a continuous body.
Once a Senator completes one term in office, he or she can be reelected. There is no limit to the number of terms Senators may serve. .
The Senate has special jobs that only it can do. It can:
- Say yes or no to any treaties the president makes.
- Say yes or no to any people the president recommends for jobs, such as cabinet officers, Supreme Court justices, and ambassadors.
- Can hold a trial for a government official who does something very wrong.
Date: 2015-01-12; view: 801