Press "Enter" to skip to content

Bicameral Legislatures


The United States government is set up as
a bicameral legislature according to Article I, Section I of the U.S. Constitution. The
word bicameral has Latin roots meaning two houses. Therefore, our federal government
is divided into two houses or two chambers, as it is sometimes called. If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering
how did the founders of our government decide on a bicameral legislature in the first place? At the time of the original colonies and budding
new states, people had different ideas about governing in their different states. Proportional
representation was popular with some at the time as it gave the larger states greater
influence in the federal government. On the flipside, proportional representation put
the smaller states at a disadvantage as they were given less jurisdiction in governing
decisions. As this caused greater and greater controversy, two plans were proposed for the
federal government: the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. The Virginia Plan was proposed by Virginian
James Madison in 1787. This plan directly favored the big states. The plan urged for
three branches of government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Additionally,
it called for two houses of government, one with officials elected by the people and one
with officials elected by the state legislatures. Basically, the Virginia Plan suggested the
use of population as the bases for distributing seats among the states. That same year, William Paterson proposed
the New Jersey Plan. Its goal was to keep one vote per state so that equal representation
for all states could exist. This plan was in direct support of the smaller states of
America. Having a one vote per state policy meant that the smaller states had just as
much jurisdiction as the larger states and ensured that policy would be beneficial for
all. This plan was also in support of having an intra branch check to distribute balance
and order within the two houses of the legislature. With a check system in place, both houses
were free to have their own responsibilities and size. Now, in the grand scheme of things, both of
these proposed plans were similar in nature, however, one favors the larger states and
the other favors the smaller states. Obviously, choosing one plan over the other would create
even more tension among the people, but a way of governing had to be instituted. I give you: the Great Compromise by Roger
Sherman in 1787. This compromise stated that the United States Government would be a bicameral
legislature meaning it would have a House of Representatives based on population and
a Senate consisting of two members from each state. Let’s look a little more in depth at each
of these chambers of congress. To serve in the House of Representatives,
you must be at least 25 years old. You also have to have been a citizen of the United
States for at least seven years. Because this is a state representative position, you must
be a legal resident of the state you wish to represent. Members of the House are elected
by the people, and all states have at least one representative. A system called apportionment
or redistricting is used to determine how many representatives a state gets. This process
involves distributing representatives according to each state’s population based on the
decennial census that is taken. Currently there are 435 members seated in the House
of Representatives based on the 2010 census. Now we know how Representatives got into the
House, but what exactly do their responsibilities include? Members of the House have a few different
responsibilities. They can impeach government officials, including the president. Members
could actually decide the outcome for presidential elections if there were ever a time the electoral
college couldn’t agree on the candidate. Additionally, the House is responsible for
all bills that raise taxes. To serve in the United States Senate the requirements
are little more strict. You must be at least 30 years old and have been a citizen of the
United States for at least nine years. Like in the House, to serve in the Senate you must
be a legal resident of the state you wish to represent. Senators are elected by the
people, and all states have two senate members for a total of 100. In congress, the Senate holds impeachment
trials, ratifies treaties with a ⅔ vote, and votes to confirm or deny the appointments
of executive officers. The Senate also has the power for writing and passing laws. Overall,
these are huge responsibilities that our members of Congress take on. If anything, learning
about the responsibilities and election processes are all the more motivation to get out in
the world and educate yourself on the world of politics! Things to remember:
Bicameral means there are TWO chambers of Congress.
Those TWO chambers are the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The House is based on population; the Senate is set at two members per state.
Both chambers are directly elected by the people, although senators were originally
elected by state legislatures. Do your civic duty and give this video a “like,”
and “subscribe” to our channel to learn more about government and politics! Thanks
for joining us!

One Comment

  1. Muhammad Dawood
    Muhammad Dawood July 4, 2019

    Productive Information ♥ ♥ ♥

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *