What Is Congress?
There are 435 Members in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Members are divided among the 50 states. The number of Representatives given to each state is based on its population. The more citizens a state has, the more Representatives it receives.
Each state is divided into districts based on the number of Representatives it receives. Each Representative serves one district. Some states, like California and New York, have lots of citizens and are divided into many districts. Other states, like Montana and Vermont, have small populations and have one Representative for the entire state.
Each district holds elections for its Representative every two years. In order to run for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, a candidate must be at least 25 years old, have lived in the United States for at least seven years, and live in the state they would represent.
In addition to meeting these requirements, people interested in being elected as a Representative often begin their careers by serving in their city or state government. This helps them understand the needs of their communities and prepares them to represent the citizens of their districts in the U.S. House of Representatives. Many Representatives also have experience working as teachers, doctors, or lawyers before running for election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Once elected, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives spend most of their weeks in Washington, D.C. proposing bills and making laws. Representatives are responsible for researching how proposed bills would affect their districts. By understanding the impact the bill could have on their district, Representatives are better able to decide whether or not to support it.
Representatives have more responsibilities in addition to making laws. They each serve on two committees, where they are subject experts who closely examine bills before they are voted on. They help citizens and groups from their districts find funding for projects, like building bridges or creating after-school programs. They oversee their offices in their districts and Washington, D.C., including working with their staff to create a budget and manage their employees. Although Members of the U.S. House of Representatives spend their weeks in Washington, D.C., they return home on weekends and during district work periods to work more closely with the citizens of their district.