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The Legislative Branch
Transcript of The Legislative Branch
The house of representatives
To become a congressman, one would have to have certain qualifications to meet the requirements. Because congress is a bicameral legislature, there are different qualifications for each house.
the house of representatives
The House of Representatives consists of 435 members. Each state gets representatives based on their population. A high population means more representatives while a low population means less representatives. The average age of today's House is 57. Most of the representatives are men but there are 81 women in the House also. The House contains mainly Whites with the exception of 90 representatives. 43 African Americans, 33 Hispanic, 12 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 2 Native Americans
To be a member of the house, you must at least be 25 years of age. You must have been a citizen of the U.S. for at least 7 years. Finally, you must be a citizen of the state you are representing
To become a member of the Senate, you must be at least 30 years of age. You must have been a U.S. citizen for at least 9 years. Finally, you must be a citizen of the state you're representing
The Senate consists of 100 members. Each state gets 2 representatives. The average age of the Senate is 62. The majority of the senators are male with 20 women. Most of the Senate is White with 2 African Americans, 4 Hispanics, and 1 Asian American.
Why bicameral legislature
Congress was originally set up as a bicameral legislature meaning two houses. There are three main reasons for this system
When America gained its independence, many of the ideas of the British government were used. Britain had two houses of Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Americans took this idea for their Congress
The founders of Congress put special emphasis towards the checks and balances to limit tyrannical power. If there was only one house in Congress then that house would have too much power. The solution, two houses to keep each other in line. This way power is kept somewhat equal.
At the time there were both small and large states. The small states, afraid of losing their influence in the government, wanted Congress to have equal representation for all the states. However, the larger states wanted to have representation in Congress based on population. Since they had more people, they thought they should also have more votes. The solution once again was to have two houses. One with equal representation, the Senate, and one with populational representation, the House of Representatives.
The salary of rank and file, or common members, of the House and Senate was $174,000 per year. as of 2013. Congress leadership is paid more. For the House, leaders include the minority leader($193,400), the majority leader($193,400), and the speaker of the house($223,500). For the Senate, leaders include the minority leader($193,400), the majority leader($193,400), the president pro tempore($223,500), and the vise president($230,700).
benefits and Privileges
The members of Congress receive health care along with a retirement plan. The member's pension depends on how many years of service he/she has served. Congress people also receive an annual allowance which covers the costs related to their congressional duties. For example, it covers staff workers and travel expenses. Usually all congress people have their own personal staff that works for them. Staff might include a chief of staff, a press secretary, a scheduler, a personal assistant, and others. Members of Congress are also allowed to have an outside income or another job.
controversy in congress
Congress is faced with two main controversial issues. These are the seniority system and term limits.
problem 1: The Seniority system
The Seniority System is a system based on age. This means that senior, or older, members may have more power, more privileges, and more qualified for a better position. This is a controversial system for many members. Should age have an effect on your status in Congress? In my opinion, it should not. I think that you should be judged upon your skills, talents, work ethic, and character. If you are a young congress person just starting out I don't think you should be discouraged from being great just because you're not as old. I think the system should be discarded and that the changes in power and position should be voted upon by all the members.
problem 2: Term Limits
Term Limits are basically timers to how long you can serve in Congress. There is controversy to whether term limits should exist. I think that term limits should be kept. This way the desire of power will not cloud the congress person's thinking. Also, new representatives will be elected by the people. This makes for a more rounded Congress.