Both houses of Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate – have similar jobs. Representatives and senators both write and vote on laws and sit on committees, and both are elected by the people. But they’re also very different.
What Is the Senate?
There are 100 senators in the Senate – two for each state. Until the 17th Amendment was passed in 1913, state legislatures voted for senators. Now, these officials are elected by popular vote in each state.
The vice president of the United States serves as the president of the Senate, but only votes when there’s a tie to break.
What Does a Senator Do?
Senators spend time speaking with the people in their states about concerns, problems, and policies that might affect them. Like representatives, senators are expected by their constituents to fight for laws that are relevant to them.
On an average day, a senator might take phone calls and answer emails from constituents who wish to share their views and make suggestions. This gives the lawmaker an idea of what type of legislation they should push for in the Senate.
When the president wants to make appointments to federal positions, the Senate has to vote on whether to accept or deny the appointment.
As part of the legislative branch, senators shape the policies and laws that impact the lives of everyday Americans. For this reason, it is important for voters to understand who their senators are and what they believe about government. Otherwise, they might elect someone who works against their interests.