The United States Congress

The Framers of the Constitution created a republican form of government, one in which the people elect representatives to make public policy decisions for them. At the national level, the people vote directly to choose members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Members of Congress, both House members and Senators, provide the people of this nation with their most direct link to the decisions and policies made by the national government. Because members of Congress are chosen directly by the people, the Congress is often referred to as the "People's Branch."

There are 435 Members of the House of Representatives. Each member represents a Congressional District with roughly the same population, about 600,000 people. The voters living in each district select the person that represents them in the House. If you know your Postal Zip Code, you can find out who represents you in the House by visiting the House's "Write Your Representative" page.

There are 100 Senators in the United States Senate. The people of each of the fifty states select two Senators to represent them in the Senate. Both of the Senators from a state represent the entire state--they do not divide the state in half geographically, along party lines or on any other basis. Each resident of a state, then, is represented by two Senators. To find out who the two Senators are from your state, you can browse the Senate's directory of Senators listed by the State they represent.

Facts & Figures

U. S. Congress Quick Facts

Historical Documents

Federalist Papers 
No. 52 - The House of Representatives
No. 62 - The Senate
No. 63 - The Senate Continued
No. 64 - The Powers of the Senate
No. 65 - The Powers of the Senate Continued
No. 66 - Objections to the Power of the Senate to Set as a Court for Impeachments Further Considered

AntiFederalist Papers
No. 8 - The Power Vested in Congress of Sending Troops For Suppressing Insurrections Will Always Enable Them to Stifle the First Struggles of Freedom
No. 44 - What Congress Can Do; What A State Can Not
No. 55, No. 56, No. 57, and No. 58 - Will the House of Representatives Be Genuinely Representative?
No. 62, No. 63, No. 64, and No. 65 - On the Organization and Powers of the Senate

Reasearch and Study Helps

Why Don't Politicians Seem to Listen to the People?
What is a Recess Appointment?

What is a "Caucus"?
Why are sitting members of Congress almost always reelected?
What is the purpose of the Census? What is the data used for?
What do contributors "buy" with the money they give to politicians?

Think About It

Applying What You've Learned

If you do not already know who they are, identify your two U.S. Senators and your Representative in the U.S. House. Conduct research on their actions regarding a policy in which you're interested. Write them a letter to express your opinion of their actions.

Applying What You've Learned

U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate

THOMAS: Legislative Information Online

Research the Congress
Keep track of your representatives. Find out what's going on in the Congress today. Find out who gave how much money to your representatives!