Essential Questions:
1) What are the formal and informal qualifications
for members of Congress?
2) Who is in the 113th Congress?
3) How are representatives apportioned in
Most members of Congress start out in local
After they gain experience, they may run for
either the House or Senate
The people they serve are called Constituents
◦ The size of this group increases as they move up in
Must be a resident of the state in which
House members must be at least 25 years old
and must have been a U.S. citizen for at least
7 years
Senators must be at least 30 years old and a
U.S. citizen for at least 9 years
Members of Congress used to be all white,
male, and middle to upper class
This changed starting in 1960s: Now women
and minority groups are somewhat included
(but it is still mostly old white rich guys)
Most have a college degree, many have
advanced degrees
Most have a background in business or law
Party Composition in House
*Republicans: 233
*Democrats: 199
*3 Seats are currently vacant
Gender Composition in Congress
*100 women
Stats Cont.
Religious Affiliation
 Largest denomination: Catholic
Racial Composition:
 19% of House members are minorities, which
43 African Americans (10%)
34 Hispanics (8%)
10 Asians (2%)
2 Native Americans (.5%)
Average age of members of the House of
Representatives is 57
Average age of members of the Senate is 62
Senate=100 seats, 2 for each state
House=435 seats, each represents 1
congressional district (approx. 650,000
House seats are assigned by state’s
population (each state guaranteed at least 1)
◦ This is determined by the census, taken every 10
years. When states gain or lose population,
sometimes House seats are reapportioned, and
congressional districts change.
Congressional Redistricting
Redistricting – drawing up
new district lines after
Gerrymandering is the
process of re-drawing
electoral district boundaries
in order to create a political
advantage for a particular
party by manipulating
geographic boundaries.
Named after Elbridge Gerry,
the governor of
Massachusetts who redrew
Massachusetts state
election districts to benefit
his Democratic-Republican
party in 1812.
Gerrymandering was
outlawed in 1960 by the
court case Gomillion v.
Talk to your neighbor:
1) What are the formal and
informal qualifications for
members of Congress?
2) Who is in the 113th Congress?
3) How are representatives
Essential Questions:
1) How do the leadership roles in the Senate
and the House work?
2) What is the purpose of the Congressional
House members run for re-election every 2
Senators run every 6 years (1/3 up for reelection every 2 years)
Number of terms is unlimited for both
Incumbent=currently in office
During elections, incumbents have the
advantages of:
◦ name recognition
◦ campaign funds
◦ Solve voters issues
John Dingell: D- Michigan
Organization is based on the 2 major political
Party with the most seats controls the agenda
Speaker of the House:
◦ presides over the House
◦ Schedules bills for action
◦ Also, 2nd in line to assume the
Presidency in an emergency
John Boehner (R-OH)
Majority Leader
• Manages legislation on the
house floor
• Second in command of their
Minority Leader
•Helps manage legislation on the
house floor (no power over
•First in command of their party
Majority Whip
•Helps majority leader in house
•Persuades reps to vote w/ party
•Makes sure people are present to
Minority Whip
•Has the same duties as the
Majority Whip
House Majority Leader:
Eric Cantor (R-Va)
House Minority Leader:
Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca)
President of the Senate
•Vice President
•Official presiding officer
President Pro Tempore
•Senior senator of majority party
• Fills in when VP isn’t there
Majority Leader
•Steers party’s bills through senate
•Encourage members to attend
•Party support on bills
Minority Leader
•Helps shape minority party policy
Majority Whip
•Makes sure reps are present to
•Link between party members and
majority leader
Minority Whip
•Same as above
The Vice President
Joe Biden (D-Delaware)
President pro tempore
Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
Senate Majority Leader:
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Senate Minority Leader:
Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
 Ease workload and divide work
 Select worthy bills
◦ Most bills never make it past committee
 Help public learn about bills
Standing- permanent committees that deal w/
specific policy area
Select- temporary committees to study a
specific issue
Joint - made up of members of both
chambers, permanent or temporary
Conference- temporary committee to resolve
issues over versions of a bill and create a
compromised bill
Membership extremely important for
 Each political party assigns members of
Congress to standing committees
 Committee Chairperson
◦ Decide when the committee will meet
◦ How long they will discuss a bill
◦ Manage floor debate of bills from their
expressed powers (enumerated powers):
granted to Congress explicitly in the
Article 1 Section 8
Elastic Clause: Constitution authorizes
Congress to “make all laws which shall be
necessary and proper.”
◦ Powers beyond those expressed in first 17 clauses
◦ Congress can stretch its listed powers to meet the
needs of a growing nation
◦ These implied powers must be linked to specifically
assigned powers
Denied Powers
◦ Limits on Congressional Power: Bill of Rights
 Cannot pass Bill of Attainder: laws that punish people
w/o allowing them a trial
 Ex post Facto laws: laws that make crimes of acts that
were legal when committed
The Power to choose a President in a tie
Impeachment: House can formally accuse a
federal official of wrongdoing, Senate then
conducts a trial to decide whether to remove the
official from office
Confirmation: Senate approves officials
appointed by the President
Ratification: Senate must approve all treaties
negotiated by President before become law
Amendment: Both houses of Congress can vote
to propose an amendment to the Constitution