U.S. Elected Officials

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States consisting of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Members are usually affiliated to the Republican Party or to the Democratic Party, and only rarely to a third party or as independents. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 Representatives and 100 Senators.

The members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms representing the people of a single constituency, known as a “district”. Congressional districts are apportioned to states by population using the United States Census results, provided that each state has at least one congressional representative. Each state, regardless of population or size, has two senators. Currently, there are 100 senators representing the 50 states. Each senator is elected at-large in their state for a six-year term, with terms staggered, so every two years approximately one-third of the Senate is up for election.

United States House of Representatives

The United States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the United States Congress (a bicameral legislature) alongside the Senate.

The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the United States Constitution. The major power of the House is to pass federal legislation that affects the entire country, although its bills must also be passed by the Senate and further agreed to by the U.S. President before becoming law (unless both the House and Senate re-pass the legislation with a two-thirds majority in each chamber). The House has some exclusive powers: the power to initiate revenue bills, to impeach officials (impeached officials are subsequently tried in the Senate), and to elect the U.S. President in case there is no majority in the Electoral College.

Each U.S. state is represented in the House in proportion to its population as measured in the census, but every state is entitled to at least one representative. The most populous state, California, currently has 53 representatives. On the other end of the spectrum, there are seven states with only one representative each (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming). The total number of voting representatives is fixed by law at 435. In addition there are six non-voting Representatives who have a voice on the floor and a vote in committees, but no vote on the floor.

The Speaker of the House, who presides over the chamber, is elected by the members of the House, and is therefore traditionally the leader of the House Democratic Caucus or the House Republican Conference, whichever party has more voting members. The House meets in the south wing of the United States Capitol.

United States Senate

The United States Senate is a legislative chamber in the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the House of Representatives makes up the U.S. Congress.

The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each state, regardless of population, is represented by two senators who serve staggered six-year terms. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol, in Washington, D.C. The House of Representatives convenes in the south wing of the same building.

The Senate has several advice and consent powers not granted to the House, including consenting to treaties as a precondition to their ratification and consenting to or confirming appointments of Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, other federal executive officials, military officers, regulatory officials, ambassadors, and other federal uniformed officers, as well as trial of federal officials impeached by the House. The Senate is widely considered both a more deliberative and more prestigious body than the House of Representatives, due to its longer terms, smaller size, and statewide constituencies, which historically led to a more collegial and less partisan atmosphere.  The U.S. Senate is sometimes known as “world’s greatest deliberative body”

President of the United States

The President of the United States of America (POTUS) is the elected head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

The President of the United States is considered one of the world’s most powerful people, leading the world’s only contemporary superpower. The role includes being the commander-in-chief of the world’s most expensive military with the largest nuclear arsenal and leading the nation with the largest economy by real and nominal GDP. The office of the president holds significant hard and soft power both in the United States and abroad.

Article II of the U.S. Constitution vests the executive power of the United States in the president. The power includes execution of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers with the advice and consent of the Senate. The president is further empowered to grant federal pardons and reprieves, and to convene and adjourn either or both houses of Congress under extraordinary circumstances. The president is largely responsible for dictating the legislative agenda of the party to which the president is enrolled. The president also directs the foreign and domestic policy of the United States.[Since the founding of the United States, the power of the president and the federal government has grown substantially.

The president is indirectly elected by the people through the Electoral College to a four-year term, and is one of only two nationally elected federal officers, the other being the Vice President of the United States. The Twenty-second Amendment, adopted in 1951, prohibits anyone from ever being elected to the presidency for a third full term. It also prohibits a person from being elected to the presidency more than once if that person previously had served as president, or acting president, for more than two years of another person’s term as president.