Together, the House of Representatives and the Senate make up Congress, the legislative branch of the United States government. Members of the House of Representatives are commonly referred to as representatives, congressmen or congresswomen, while members of the Senate are typically referred to as senators. While each body has its own set of rules and regulations to follow, there are several similarities between the two.
Senators and representatives are both elected by popular vote by the constituents of their respective states. Senators and representatives both face re-election after completing their terms if they want to continue their service. However, neither members of the House of Representatives nor senators are subject to term limits, which means they can serve as long as their constituents continue to re-elect them. Both groups are elected to make decisions and pass laws that are in the best interests of their constituents.
Both groups are charged with drafting legislation that may become law. To start this process, both the House and the Senate draft bills that they will introduce, send to committee, debate and bring to the floor for a vote. A bill passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate goes to the president, who either vetoes the bill or signs it into law. Both the House and Senate have many opportunities to debate and revise bills before votes are held.
Due to the extremely complex nature of their work, both the House and Senate employ a committee system. Each group also employs staff to help conduct its committee work. In both the House and the Senate, committees exist to collect information, recognize problems, pinpoint solutions and report findings. While both bodies use a committee system, each group uses different guidelines for its respective system, and each committee forms its own rules under these guidelines. Bills that are introduced by both the House and the Senate go to committee, but not all bills make it out. Some bills are scrapped in committee and are never debated or voted on.
Convening in the Capitol
Both groups convene in the Capitol, with the House meeting in the House Chamber and the Senate meeting in the Senate Chamber. Both senators and representatives introduce, debate and vote on bills in their respective chambers within the Capitol. Both representatives' and senators’ offices are located within walking distance of the Capitol in the congressional office buildings, which are connected to the Capitol by a series of underground tunnels. Constituents are free to schedule meetings at their elected officials' Washington, D.C. or home-state offices.
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