How Long Is One Term for a Congress Member?

Senators are elected by all voters in their states. Representatives are elected by members of the district they represent.
... Jupiterimages/ Images

It’s an important job that can be seen as the pulse of democracy and can shape laws on the local and national level. Members of the Senate and House of Representatives make up Congress. They each serve different term lengths once elected from the state in which they reside. They are tasked with bringing the issues that affect their state to the national table for discussion as well as working together to bring about laws and acts for the good of the American people.

1 Breakdown of Congress

Congress is actually made up of two chambers, both of which work together and serve different term lengths. The House of Representatives and the Senate both are responsible for writing national legislation. They divide the work into separate committees. Each committee specializes in different areas of expertise.

Some of the Congressional officers of these committees are elected by their peers in the House of Representatives or Senate. When an election for a member of Congress happens during the second year of a newly-elected president, it is called a mid-term election. These are important as they can disrupt the partisan control of the Congress, switching it from Democrat to Republican or vice versa.

2 Constitution Instructions for the Senate

The Senate is composed of two Senators elected from each state, according to the laws in the federal Constitution. This means there are 100 senators in the Senate at any time. They must be at least 30 years old and a citizen of the United States for a minimum of nine years. When they are elected, they must have a verified residence in the state for which they will represent. Once elected, the Congress term length for a state senator is six years. Due to rotation in election years for each Senator, about a third of the number of Senators is up for election every two years.

3 House of Representatives Term Length

On the other side of the Congress are the House of Representatives members. A U.S. House of Representatives term is two years, after which they can run for reelection in their home state. The member of the house needs to start to seek reelection within those two years. The number of House of Representatives members is 435. As with the members of the Senate, due to the election cycle, there are approximately one third of the U.S. House of Representatives seats up for reelection at every term.

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at