Congress: Composition

Congress: Composition

Two Chambers:

  • House of Representatives: Members are known as Representatives or Congressmen. There are 435 seats which are allocated to states based on population, with at least one per state. They serve for two-year terms. Representatives must be at least 25 years old, U.S. citizens for at least seven years, and live in the state they represent.

  • Senate: There are 100 Senators, two from each state, serving for six-year terms. Senators must be at least 30 years old, U.S. citizens for at least nine years, and live in the state they represent.

Demographic composition:

  • Gender: Number of female representatives and senators is increasing, though progress is slow. As of 2021, 26.7% of Congress is female.

  • Ethnicity: While the ethnic diversity in Congress is growing, it is still not representative of the U.S. population.

Party composition:

  • The composition of Congress alternates between the Republican and Democratic Party primarily. As of the 117th Congress (2021-2023), the House is majority Democrat while the Senate is a 50-50 split, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the tie-breaking vote.

Committees and Subcommittees:

  • Much of the work of Congress is done in committees and subcommittees, which specialize in specific areas such as Foreign Relations or Appropriations. These committees are composed of members from both houses, with the majority party having more seats on each committee.


  • The House is led by the Speaker of the House, currently Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California.

  • The Senate is led by the Majority Leader, currently Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

Shifts in Composition:

  • The composition of Congress changes every two years following the midterm elections, which can significantly shift the balance of power between the two parties.

Implications of composition:

  • The composition of Congress influences the legislative agenda, policy decisions, and the political climate in the US in a significant way. The diversity in Congress also impacts representation and policy formulation.

Representation vs party line:

  • While congressmen are responsible for representing their constituents, they often vote along party lines. This is due to various factors, including political ideologies, party pressure, and electoral considerations.

Role of lobbyists and interest groups:

  • Lobbyists and interest groups can significantly affect the composition and actions of Congress by providing campaign funding, expert information on policy areas, and mobilizing voters.

Remember, Congressional composition is a rich and complex aspect of US Politics that has both institutional and societal implications. It is essential to have a holistic understanding of its various facets.