What Do U.S. Representatives Do?

A U.S. representative, also referred to as a congressman or congresswoman, is elected to serve the people in their congressional district for a two-year term. The framers of the Constitution wanted U.S. representatives to express the popular will of the people. Their duties include serving on committees, introducing bills, and voting on federal legislation. The latter two are responsibilities split evenly between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The number of representatives per state is proportional to the population, with each state guaranteed at least one representative. There are a total of 435 U.S. representatives who make up the House of Representatives. Find out who your representative is here.

The House of Representatives is one of the two chambers constituting the U.S. Congress (the other being the Senate). Within the House of Representatives, there are many roles- most notable of which is the Speaker of the House. The Speaker of the House is nominated and elected by their fellow representatives and has authority over the law-making process and delegating committee roles — in addition to assuming a range of administrative responsibilities. The current speaker of the house is Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Additionally, the House of Representatives is organized by committees that oversee major topics of discussion including ethics, budget, and homeland security. With over twenty committees, many representatives serve on multiple committees. Bills are typically brought to the relevant committee first, where it will be discussed at voted upon, before being brought before the entire House. Committees also include their own chairpersons and ranking members who assume roles of higher authority.

While most of its law-making powers are split equally with the Senate, the House of Representatives retains exclusive power to initiate the impeachment process and originate revenue bills. As a part of the House’s oversight responsibilities, bringing impeachment charges against federal officials can be initiated by any representative in the House. Revenue bills were assigned to originated exclusively in the House of Representatives because the framers of the constitution hoped that the proportionality of representation in the House would aid in introducing revenue bills that are proportionate to the needs of every state.

In the 2020 elections, all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives are up for election. To find out which representative in your state best matches your political ideologies, use the VotingSmarter #CandidateMatchmaker!

Contributed by Breanna Guo (Marketing intern at VotingSmarter)

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