Government Basics

An overview on the structure of the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

The U.S. Senate is made up of 100 members. Each state sends two Senators to represent it and they do not have to be from the same party. Currently, the Senate has 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and 2 Independents.

A senator must be at least 30 years old, have been a citizen for nine years, and be a resident of his or her state. Senators serve six-year terms and are elected on rotating schedules. One-third of the Senate is elected every two years.

The House is made up of 435 members. Each state has at least one representative. The total number of representatives is a direct proportion of its population based on the U.S. Census. Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives has 247 Republicans and 193 Democrats.

A representative must be at least 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for seven years, and be a resident of the state (although not necessarily the district) from which he or she is chosen. Representatives serve two-year terms and are elected every even year.