How Congress Works

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For a very long time, I honestly didn’t care for politics or wonder what the hell they did. As I’ve grown I’ve gained experience in the professional world, and learning politics will be key. I was always confused about what the difference was between the House and the Senate. I would also think why the hell do we need both? Well with this article I will explain why both are necessary and dive a little into how congress works. It would be best if you had a foundational understanding of what actually goes on in our nation’s politics. Because it can be confusing.

I’m hoping to make this into a series of articles. In order to over time explain what goes on in Washington DC and why you should care. Understand that voting for your elected officials is important even if it means not being lazy one day or taking the day off to vote.

How many Members of Congress are there and What do They Do?

In total there are 535 members of Congress. Of those 535, 100 of them serve in the Senate and 435 in the house of representatives. They do similar things but have different focuses. Let’s quickly discuss how they are similar.

Some of the few ways that the House and the Senate are the same as they are both elected by the public and both pass legislation. In fact, you have to go through both the House and the Senate to pass any law and get it to the President to sign. That’s really the only thing that they have in common.

How Congress Works

How do the House and Senate Differ?

Now, where they both differ is a bit complicated. But don’t worry we will walk you through it here. Let’s start with the House.

In the House, the majority party holds the power to draft chamber rules and schedule bills to reach the floor. Most of the time, House rules will limit debate so that important legislation can be passed during one legislative business day.

For the Senate, however, the majority has the power to schedule when various bills can come to the floor to be voted on. In the Senate, a single senator can slow the legislation, via lobbying, from coming to the floor for a vote. A debate in the senate will not conclude until 60 Senators vote for a cloture motion to approve a bill for consideration. The Majority must then coordinate with the Minority party to set the rules for the debate on the legislation. This can take up to two weeks!


You may still be thinking, why do I have to understand politics? Well, it’s part of leadership. Being a great leader has a lot to do with understanding the politics of it all. Understanding how rules, policies, and laws work will help you navigate what and where your organization can go. Make their lives a little better. I wrote this article not to be a catch-all but to provide a solid foundational understanding of the house and the senate and what their roles are. I will say keep reading about politics and how you play a part in it because we as a people can make the change we want to see in the world. But you can only make that change if you understand what’s going on. Sometimes to be successful you have to play the “game.” Understanding politics is the key driver to playing that game successfully.

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