THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
During the Constitutional Convention, The “Great Compromise” created two houses of Congress:
House of Representatives – 435 members.  The number of members per state is based upon the population.
The Senate – EVERY state has two senators.

REPRESENTATIVES – Members of the House of Representatives.

SENATORS – Members of the Senate.

APPORTIONED – How the 435 members are divided up between the states.  It is based on the census.

CENSUS – Every ten years, the government counts the number of people living in the U.S.A.

DISTRICTS – The area that an elected member represents.
TERM–The amount of time that a member serves.

CONSTITUENT – The people that a member of Congress represents.


THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The term of service last two years.
Members are elected by the people living in their districts.
Members must be at least 25 years old.
Members must have been citizens for at least seven years.
Members must be residents of the state that they represent.

THE SENATE
The term of service last six years.
Members are elected by the people in their states.
Members must be at least 30 years old.
Members must have been citizens for at least nine years.
Members must be residents of the state that they represent.

HOUSE AND SENATE RULES
If a person elected to Congress is of “questionable” character, the other members may challenge their qualifications before they are sworn in.  The
Supreme Court will decide.
Campaign money, donated by citizens and companies, will not be used for personal expenses.
Serious violations of conduct may result in expulsion (being kicked out).  A 2/3 vote is required to expel someone.
SESSION – The amount of time that Congress meets.  This is sort of like “halves” in a Basketball game.

Sessions begin on January 3rd, and usually last until September, although they may last longer if there is a lot of work to be completed.
In an Emergency, the President can call congress back for a “Special Session”.

PEOPLE IN THE CONGRESS

The MAJORITY PARTY is the party in a house with the most members.

The MINORITY PARTY is the party with fewer members.


The SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE is the person who runs the meetings in the House of Representatives.  Elected by the membership.

The SPEAKER OF THE SENATE is the Vice President of the United States.  He/she runs the Senate meetings.

The PRESIDENT PRO-TEMPORE is elected to run the Senate when the Vice-President is not there. Elected by the membership.

MAJORITY LEADER (FLOOR LEADER)– Top member of the party with the most members. Elected by the party members.
MINORITY LEADER (FLOOR LEADER)- Top member of the party with fewer members. Elected by the party members.

PARTY WHIP – The person in each party who assists the Floor Leader.  They are called the “whip” because they have to whip party members into
shape. Elected by the party members
BILL- A proposed law that has to be voted on.

All bills must start in a COMMITTEE.  A committee is a small group of Congressmen who work on details and create bills.

The majority party gets to have more members on the committee.  

Members of the committees are elected by their party.

19 committees in the House.
17 in the Senate.

Then the bills are sent to be worked on in a SUB-COMMITTEE.

Before a bill comes up for a vote before the entire House of Representatives, it must first pass a vote in the committee.  
(No team plays in the World Series until it plays the regular season first.  If a team can’t win in the regular season, it can’t play in the playoffs.)

The bills are debated, worked on, compromised over, and then voted on.

TYPES OF COMMITTEES

SELECT COMMITTEES – Specially appointed committees that deal with issues not covered by the regular committees.

JOINT COMMITTEES – Committees that are made up of Senators and Representatives.

CONFERENCE COMMITTEES – Committees that are made up of Senators and Representatives  to work out a compromise between two versions of the
same bill.

After going through all of this, and being voted “YES” by a majority of the members of EACH house, then the President will VETO, or SIGN the bill into law.
The Constitution also allows ordinary citizens to create laws.  People can create a PETITION (a document with the proposed law explained in writing,
followed by signatures of registered voters).  This is called an INITIATIVE (a bill created by a citizen or citizens).  If the initiative has enough signatures, it
becomes a PROPOSITION (proposed law) and will appear on the next BALLOT (the list of people and propositions that people will vote for or vote
against).
Sometimes, a state legislature will pass a law ONLY if the people approve it.  This is called a REFERENDUM (After a bill is passed by the legislature,
people must also vote yes by a majority for the law to take effect).
This is a way that the people can “check” the power of government.