Differences between House of Representatives and the Senate

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Differencesbetween House of Representatives and the Senate

Differencesbetween House of Representatives and the Senate

TheUnited States Congress comprises of the Senate and House ofRepresentatives that differ in term length, prestige, power, andrepresentation. The two houses perform the legislative duties asrequired by the Constitution. The two representative bodies aremandated to approve proposed laws before they are signed or vetoed bythe president. The House of Representatives has 435 members that areselected from the districts apportioned by the population. Their termlength is two years. As per the Constitution, the House has the powerto impeach officials or legally remove federal public servants whohave committed misdemeanors or high crimes. They also have theauthority to choose the president via the Electoral College deadlock.Apart from that, bills that increase revenue have to be instigated inthe house. The Senate, conversely, comprises of 100 members with aterm length of six years. As mandated by the Constitution, the Senateadvise and consents to treaties and presidential appointments. Thedifferences in functionality can be summarized in the table below [ CITATION Dif15 l 1033 ].



Constitutional Powers

  1. Initiates all bills pertaining revenue

  2. Initiates impeachment articles

  1. Tries the impeached officials

  2. Offers “advice and consent” to treaties and key presidential appointments


  1. 435 members having two-year terms

  2. Stresses revenue and tax policies

  3. Hierarchically organized

  1. 100 members having six-year terms

  2. Stresses foreign policy

  3. Less hierarchical

Institutional changes over the years

  1. Procedures in the house are efficient

  1. It has become harder to pass legislation

Ingeneral, the U.S. Congress is tasked with making laws, regulatingcommerce, declaring war, and establishing federal courts as well astheir jurisdiction. It constitutes members from the differentparties. The members can choose to agree or disagree on a particularissue.

TheCongress faces several challenges. One of the challenges involvespassing a bill into law. Due to the composition of Congress, enactinglaws is quite hard. This is because some members are partisan. Thesepartisan members make decisions based on political affiliations. Inthat regard, passing a liberal law is hard since it has to generatethe majority of the votes. For example, in the current situation,there are more Democrats in the Senate than Republicans. Similarly,there are more Republicans in the House of Representatives thanDemocrats. Therefore, if the Democrats have their way in the Senate,then the Republicans have a say in the house. Such actions aredetrimental since they disrupt the normal operations of thegovernment. For instance, the president is given a hard time whenmaking appointments [ CITATION Dif15 l 1033 ].

Sincethe two factions differ regarding constitutional responsibilities,they tend to be jealous of one another’s power and privileges. Inaddition to that, they are suspicious of one another. In thatrespect, when there is a need for both sides to coordinate it becomesharder. A good example can be drawn from the comprehensiveimmigration bill in 2014. The Senate passed the bill which was alsosupported by conservative public intellectuals. The bill alsoreceived massive support from more than 100 conservative economists.However, it was rejected by the Republic section of the house.Therefore, the differences in the two houses affect their respectiveresponsibilities [ CITATION Dif15 l 1033 ].

Thetwo chambers differ from one another when it comes to privileges. Forexample, though the members of Congress are exempted from arrestexcept if they are charged with treason, fraud, or murder, thesenators can waive the privilege any time, whereas a member of theHouse must first submit his/her petition for a general vote. Suchrights draw a wedge between the two chambers and are replicated inother progressive matters [ CITATION Dif15 l 1033 ].


Diffen, 2015. House of Representatives vs. Senate. [Online] Available at: http://www.diffen.com/difference/House_of_Representatives_vs_Senate[Accessed 26 August 2016].

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