Senate 101: How the United States Upper Chamber Works

( The United States political system is unique, though based on political and legislative systems in Europe. It has two chambers of Congress, the upper chamber and the lower changer, which both handle legislative issues.

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, it’s located in the north wing of the Washington, D.C. Capitol Building, and its role is outlined and established by the United States Constitution.

Composition of the Senate

The Senate consists of 100 senators, with every single state electing two senators no matter its size or population. This is unlike the House of Representatives, which is designed to be more representative by assigning a specific number of congressional seats based on population.

Every senate is entitled to a staggered term of six years, which is a little more complicated than the terms granted to Members of Parliament in some European systems. Senate elections are staggered over the years, meaning that in one election, only one-third of the Senate is up for election. There are, however, senate elections taking place every two years.

That means senators are split up into three classes, as established in Article 1 of the United States Constitution.

Role of Senators

Senators are elected to represent constitutions in the Capitol, meaning that they must represent their interests through the process of writing and voting on laws. Senators vote on legislation that appears before the Senate, while also serving on committees that discuss issues that either interest them or have a relation to their state.

If a senator is from a state that is heavily dependent on the manufacturing industry, for instance, then that senator may serve on committees that relate to manufacturing.

Senators can introduce new legislation, and also work to obtain federal funding for their states.

Unlike members of the House of Representatives, Senators will confirm or reject executive appointments, too. This means they can vote on nominations to the Supreme Court made by the president, or various other directors of federal agencies.

The role of a senator can be split up into the following roles:

1. Debate
2. Filibuster and cloture
3. Voting
4. Confirming/rejecting nominations
5. Representing state interests

Eligibility to Become a Senator

In order to become a senator, a person must meet the requirements set out in Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution.

1. A senator must be at least 30 years old.
2. A senator must have been a United States citizen for at least nine years.
3. A senator must live in the state that they represent.