Congress What

So how does this whole Congress thing actually work?

Congress is the part of the US Federal Government responsible for creating laws. The legislative branch if you will. It consists of two chambers. There’s the Senate, and there’s the House of Representatives (known lovingly as the House).

People Call it the House

The House has 435 representatives, which are apportioned out to the states based on their populations. Each state gets at least one representative, but big ass states like California get a lot more representation on the house than super tiny states like Wyoming.

The population of a state used to determine the makeup of the House is taken every 10 years in the national census. Each member of the House represents a Congressional district within their state.

But wait what about our beloved territories and commonwealths?!?! Please. Beyond the 435 representatives, US territories and commonwealths get representation too... Kinda...

DC, Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands each elect a non-voting delegate who can speak in the House, but not vote. Puerto Rico elects a Resident Commissioner whose job is essentially the same, but is elected for four years, whereas all representatives and delegates are elected every two years. Why? Cause why not, that's why.


Moving on to the other chamber of congress. We have the Senate.

The Senate consists of 100 senators, made up of two senators from each state who represent the entire state (no territory gets representation in this chamber). Unlike the House, each senator serves for six years. Every two years an election is held for 1/3 of the Senate, so that the Senate will be brand new every six years while still having staggered, regular elections.

The Senate and the House

In order for a bill to become a law, it must be passed by both the House and the Senate. In a way, this theoretically ensures that the bill is supported both by the majority of states (the Senate), and the majority of the population (the House).

So say congress goes through some rigamarole and decides to pass a bill into a law. Now it’s up to the President either to sign the bill into law, veto it (sends it back to Congress, where it can be passed anyway by a 2/3 majority in both houses), or do nothing, upon which the bill becomes law after 10 days.

There you go. A very short and simple explanation of the US Congress. So go check out your Congress members right meow »