House 101: The United States Lower Chamber Explained

( The House of Representatives is the Lower Chamber of the United States Congress. It forms the legislative branch of the United States government and works in tandem with the Upper Chamber, the Senate. The House is comprised of elected officials but does not have a set number of officials like the Senate does.

As the name implies, the House of Representative is designed to be as representative as possible. It contains some 435 elected representatives, and that number has changed many times throughout history. In the very first congress, there were only 65 representatives. In 1911, Congress passed a new law limiting the maximum number of representatives to 435, to ensure that it doesn’t get too big.

The way in which those representatives are distributed, however, is likely to change. The number assigned to each state depends on the number of people who live there.

Term Limits and Eligibility

There are no term limits, meaning elected members of Congress can stay in the House for as long as their representatives want them to be there. Unlike senators, however, members of the House are elected every two years.

That means House members have to work as hard as possible to not only maintain the trust of the voters but to repeatedly win the party’s nomination in the primary elections every two years.

As for eligibility, the rules are less strict than for the Senate. Representatives must be over the age of 25 and must have been an American citizen for at least seven years. The representative must also live in the state that they represent.

The Role and Powers of the House of Representatives

The primary job of members of Congress is to vote on new laws. The House does this in tandem with the Senate, but there are some powers explicitly assigned to the House.

For instance, all spending bills and tax bills must start out in the House. They must, however, be designed in a way that is likely to pass in the Senate, as they must be approved by both houses for the legislation to become law.

The House is also responsible for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justices, the president, and other federal officials. That’s why the House of Representatives was able to impeach President Donald Trump over partisan matters while being incapable of removing him from office. The Democrats controlled the House in 2020 when the impeachment hearings took place, and the Republicans controlled the Senate and did not vote to remove him from office as they were not presented with compelling evidence.

The House also has the special duty of deciding who becomes the next president if no candidate wins a majority of Electoral College votes.

So while there are more members of the House, making it technically easier to become an elected official, the role is by no means less important than those working in the Senate.