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Houses and Members of Congress. Section 2 Chapter 5. House of Representatives. The framers intended the House to be close to the people then the Senate Their idea was the ordinary people would serve for a brief period of time. House of Representatives. Size.

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house of representatives
House of Representatives
  • The framers intended the House to be close to the people then the Senate
  • Their idea was the ordinary people would serve for a brief period of time
house of representatives1
House of Representatives


  • The size of the House is set by Congress (not by the Constitution)
  • The Constitution just states that the distribution must be based on population
  • A national census, or population count, is taken every ten years and serves to determine distribution
house of representatives2
House of Representatives


  • At the first Congress there was 65 members and every ten years more members were added to House
  • Until 1910 when the House got up to 435
  • The number has stayed at 435 members and the seats are now just divided among the states
  • As the population continues to grow more and more people are represented by one House Representative
house of representatives3
House of Representatives


Representatives serve two year terms

If a representative dies or resigns before the end of a term the governor of the state must call a special election to fill the seat

house of representatives4
House of Representatives

Congressional Districts

  • After each census, Congress uses the new population count to apportion, or distribute the 435 seats among states
  • Every state is entitle to one representative but those who can population very often times take representatives from those states that lose population
  • Once apportionment is complete, the state then determines the boundaries of the congressional districts
  • The drawing of these lines has been controversial
house of representatives5
House of Representatives

One Person, One Vote

Years ago congressional districts were unfair because districts within a state varied in population size

At times congressional districts had eight times as many residents as other districts in the same state

In 1964 the supreme court case Wesberry v. Sanders determined that “one-person, one-vote” and districts had to be divided by population

Some are dissatisfied with the fact that every state gets at least one representative

house of representatives6
House of Representatives


  • One criticism of states appropriating their districts is Gerrymandering– when district lines are drawn to favor one political party over another
  • It is named after Elbridge Gerry, who in 1812 was the governor Massachusetts when the district lines were drawn to favor the republican party
house of representatives7
House of Representatives


  • It can be done to concentrate a parties strength in a number of districts or by splitting opposing party members over several districts
  • In the 1986 case of Davis v. Bandemer the supreme court ruled against extreme gerrymandering
house of representatives8
House of Representatives


The Constitution sets the requirements to be a House member:

At least 25 years of age

U.S. citizens for at least 7 years

Legal resident of the state they want to represent

According to the Constitution individuals do NOT have to be from the district they are representing

house of representatives9
House of Representatives

Salary and Benefits

  • Representatives get $145, 100 annually
  • The 27th Amendment set that Congressional pay increases do not go into affect until after the next Congressional election
  • Members are given an office space, an allowance to hire a staff, travel to and maintain offices in their home districts, and for stationery, newsletters, and other supplies
  • They also have franking privilege- which allows them to send official mail for free
house of representatives10
House of Representatives

Salary and Benefits

  • The Constitution also gives members of Congress a form of immunity, or legal protection to protect their freedom of speech, members cannot be sued for anything they say while performing congressional business
  • They also cannot be arrested in or on their way to or from a meeting in Congress (unless it is a serious crime)
  • The framers thought that Senate would attract an older, more experienced group of people who would serve longer terms as the nation’s senior leaders
  • Until 1913 Senators were chosen by state legislatures and not by the voters (17th Amendment changed that)
  • The Senate does have a more prestigious atmosphere (most often go from being a House Rep to a Senator and not vice-versa)


The Constitution sets the Senate at two members per state

Today there are 100 Senators

The Senators represent their entire state



  • Senators serve a six year term
  • Senate elections are held every two years
  • This means that every two years, one-third of the senators are up for re-election
  • If a senator dies the governor of that state chooses someone to fill the spot until a special election can be held


The Constitution sets certain qualifications for being a senator:

30 years of age

U.S. citizen for at least nine years

Legal resident of the state they represent


Salary and Benefits

  • Senators also receive $145,100 annually
  • They also receive the same benefits and legal protections as House members
members of congress
Members of Congress
  • Most members of Congress are businesspeople or lawyers
  • Most members are white, male, and more than 40 years old
  • Minority groups and women are not represented in the same proportion that they make up the population
  • The 1992 elections produced increases in the numbers of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and particularly women in Congress
  • Ben Nighthorse Campbell was elected to Senate in 1992 and was the first American Indian to serve in the Senate in 60 years