The U.S. Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government primarily responsible for making the laws of the nation. Congress is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 435 members, with representation based on the population of each state, and the Senate has two members from each of the 50 states.. Members of the House must be at least 25 years old, a resident of their state and a U.S. citizen for at least seven years. Senators must be at least 30, a citizen for at least nine years, and a resident of their state.
Introduction of Bills to Congress
One main duty of a congressman is to introduce bills to Congress for review. When a congressman introduces a bill, it is sent to the appropriate subcommittee for review. If it is accepted, the bill goes to a full committee and to the Congress as a whole for debate. Once both the House of Representatives and the Senate pass a bill, it goes to the president.
Meet with Constituents
Congressmen meet with constituents to discuss new legislation and hear voter concerns. They also receive phone calls, letters and email from constituents. They maintain offices in their districts, and they return to their districts regularly.
Congressmen also set the national budget, pass treaties with foreign nations, and can declare war. In addition, as part of the doctrine of separation of powers, Congress acts as a check on both the executive and judicial branches. For example, congressmen can overturn a presidential veto by a two-thirds majority vote. The House can impeach a president and send the case to the Senate for trial. And Congress confirms judicial appointments.
- capitol image by Andrew Breeden from Fotolia.com