Legislative Branch

The Congress is the legislative branch of the United States Government. It creates and passes laws into being. The Congress is divided into two branches: the House of Representatives and the Senate. To pass into law, proposed legislation (bills) must be passed by a majority vote in both the Senate and the House. Both branches of Congress convene in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Capitol Building

Congressional Elections are held every two years – the term for Senators and Congressmen – as opposed to the Presidential elections which are held every four years.

Bills are laws that are yet to be passed – they must be voted on by both Houses and signed by the President (see Executive Branch) in order to become law.


The Senate

The Senate is composed of 100 legislators – two from every one of America’s 50 states.┬áTo preview a Senate hearing on an assault weapons ban, click here.



The House of Representatives

The House of Representatives is made up of of 435 Congressmen – although this changes every couple years. The House represents the American people, whereas the Senate represents the states.

House of Reps

News coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives passing Obama’s Health Care Bill in 2009 by a margin of 5 votes, which established a universal health-care system for U.S. citizens:


Key Terms:

Congress: The Legislative Branch of the U.S. Government.

House of Representatives: One of the two houses of Congress that represents ‘the people’ – Congressmen are elected by their districts.

Senate: The second of the two houses of Congress that represents the 50 states (2 Senators from each state).

Bill: A proposed law. It must pass (with a majority vote) both the Senate and the House, and must be signed by the President.

Gerrymandering: The act of changing the boundaries of an electorate district to favor one party over another.


The United States Government website is a classroom resource designed for a Humanities-domain classroom, and may be used for studies in Civics or American History. The three branches of the U.S. Government are complemented with summaries, pictures, videos, and definitions, to engage students with an understanding of the United States Government.