Moderate Moment | Moderate Moms

The Legislature – How laws get passed

October 1, 2011  |  Share

Kids hear lots of talk about Washington these days.  But do they understand what any of it means.  Here is a current snapshot:  There are 100 Senators in the U.S. Senate and 435 Representatives in the House.  Of those Senators, 47 are Republicans and 51 are Democrats.  There are 2 Independents.  

In the House, there are 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats.   The House is bigger than the Senate because its numbers are based on the populations of the various states.  Representatives are elected to serve for a term of two years.  You have to be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years and when elected, have been a resident of the state. 

Each state has two Senators regardless of its population.  They are elected every 6 years.  To be a Senator, you must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least 9 years and have fulfilled the requirements for residency in the state you wish to represent.

Laws can only be sponsored by legislators.  Committees then decide which bills make it onto the floor for a vote.  Once one of the two separate houses passes a bill, an identical version has to be passed by the other chamber before it can become law.  Joint committees with Senators and Representatives work together to iron out any differences between their versions.  Once both houses of Congress agree on a law, it is sent to the Speaker of the House and the Vice President for their approval.   A bill becomes a law if the President signs it.  But if he doesn’t want to sign it, he has the option to say, “no,” or to veto it. 


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