Congress vs UK Parliament

Congress vs UK Parliament


  • Congress: The United States Congress is a bicameral body, comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate. This ensures a balance of power, as each chamber has different powers and responsibilities.

  • UK Parliament: The United Kingdom Parliament is also bicameral, made up of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Commons is the dominant chamber, where the government is formed. The Lords acts as a reviewing chamber.


  • Congress: Members of both the Senate and House of Representatives are directly elected by the populace. The Senate is made up of two members from each state, irrespective of population size. The House is determined by state population, ensuring representation.

  • UK Parliament: The House of Commons is comprised of Members of Parliament (MPs) who are directly elected. The House of Lords, however, is made up of life peers, bishops, and hereditary peers, none of whom are elected.


  • Congress: Bill initiation can be done in either the House or the Senate (bar revenue-related bills which must start in the House). Both chambers must pass the exact same bill for it to become law. The President’s veto power further checks Congress.

  • UK Parliament: Any MP can initiate a bill in the House of Commons. The Lords can suggest amendments, but cannot ultimately block legislation passed by Commons. The monarch’s approval, or ‘Royal Assent’, is largely ceremonial and not used to block legislation.

Political Power

  • Congress: Members of Congress serve their state or district first. They are not beholden to party policy and can, and often do, vote against their party line.

  • UK Parliament: Party discipline is much stronger, and MPs are expected to vote in line with their party’s policies. MPs help form the government and the Prime Minister is an MP, creating a clear link between legislature and executive.


  • Congress: It has significant powers including legislation, oversight, finance, and the power to impeach and try federal officers including the President.

  • UK Parliament: It has the main roles of legislating, scrutinizing government, and representing the public. It can also force a vote of no confidence in the government, potentially triggering a general election.


  • Congress: There are regular midterm elections for Congress, which keeps members accountable to the people. However, the separation of powers means the executive is not directly responsible to Congress.

  • UK Parliament: The government is held accountable by PMQs, debates, and select committees. The fusion of powers means the executive is made up of MPs, ensuring direct responsibility to the legislature.

Remember, the structure, the members, the legislative process, political power, role, and accountability are key concepts in distinguishing between the US Congress and the UK Parliament.