United States Congress

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The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is bicameral, consisting of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. A legislator in either is a member of Congress, though usually only a representative, and is called a congressman, congresswoman, or congressperson. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election.

The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, with each member representing a congressional district and serving a two-year term. "House" seats are apportioned among the states on the basis of population. American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands send non-voting delegates to the House; Puerto Rico sends a non-voting Resident Commissioner who serves a four-year term; and the Northern Mariana Islands are not represented.

The Senate has 100 members serving staggered six-year terms. Each state has two senators, regardless of population. Every two years, approximately one-third of the Senate is elected.

The United States Constitution vests all legislative power to and in the Congress. While the House and Senate are generally equal partners in the legislative process (legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of both chambers), the Constitution grants each chamber unique powers unavailable to the other. Article II of the Constitution gives the President "Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the U.S. Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments." Bills for raising revenue must originate in the House of Representatives, which also has the sole power of impeachment of federal officers, while the Senate has the sole power to try cases in which the House has voted an impeachment.

The Congress meets in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The term Congress may also refer to a particular meeting of the Congress, reckoned according to the terms of representatives. That is, a "Congress" covers two years with the first year called the First Session and the second year called the Second Session.

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Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.