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House of Representatives

Page history last edited by mberry 14 years, 5 months ago



- The House of Representatives-



The House of Representatives is a cooperative body of 435 elected officials that are payed tax dollars to represent the interests of their constituents. Each state gets a number of representatives that depends on the population of each state, but no man, or state in this case is left behind. Each state regardless of its size is guaranteed by the constitution at least one representative. California as it stands has the most representatives while a handful of states tie for first with just one representative. Those elected to the House serve their congressional districts by advocating for legislation, helping their constituents navigate Bureaucratic entities, and as of recently strive to rake in the dough for their district (AKA pork-barreling). A representative, aside from having a personal obligation to represent his/her district, must also do what they feel is best for the United States as a whole. The House of Representatives is essentially one big balancing act between the interest of the State and that of the entire country.
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           A major characteristic of the House is the way in which it "gets stuff done". You may think of the House of Representatives as a gathering of 435 individuals each expressing their own views and drafting/presenting bills proposed by the people, but really the work in the House, and the Senate for that matter, is done in  specialized groups called Committees (A complete list of committees!).  Committees are built into both the House and the Senate and makes Congress as a whole a much more productive entity. Can you imagine how long it would take to have all 435 Representative and 100 Senators to read and debate the same bill? Committees work almost like a filter. Issues having to do with taxes automatically go to the Committee of Ways and Means just as environmental issues go to the Committee on Agriculture or the Committee of Natural Resources. The amount of money given to the Executive Branch is also determined in committee as is the minimum wage. Normally, a committee is made up of Representatives with experience in whatever segment of our government the committee represents. Committees serve a very important purpose in both the House and the Senate, but can create a lot of headaches and questionable activity as you will later find out in the section, "Ideal vs Actuality", but are nonetheless necessary for timely decisions and a responsive Legislature.
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            Aside from passing bills, the House of Representatives works to satisfy and convey the concerns of its constituents. This is probably the hardest job there is... Imagine trying to help every single person in your district while simultaneously trying to bring a million different voices to Capitol Hill . It's impossible. To help the representative keep up with his/her constituents, the representative is allowed to employ a staff to help run the office and respond to the needs of the people. Many constituents assume when they call a Congressional office that they will be transferred to their particular representative, but the fact of the matter is that they are probably too busy to personally hear what you have to say. That's what the staff and an army of interns does on a daily basis. Whether recording constituent opinions, helping constituents navigate the treacherous and ambiguous waters of the Bureaucracy, writing speeches, or organizing campaigns and public meetings, the staff of a congressperson is constantly working.
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Implied vs. Enumerated Powers
When the founding father's outlined the concept of a Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) in the Constitution, they were quick to specify the rights Congress had, but relatively vague on how and where Congress would get the power to execute its duties and fulfill its constituents wishes. The struggle between enumerated powers (power that is guaranteed) and implied powers (power necessary to implement enumerated powers) has been a hinderance to Congresses efficiency, and at times has created trust issues between Congress and the public. Below is an excerpt from the Constitution of the United States which states the powers that are guaranteed to the legislative body. It is nearly impossible to eliminate the existence of the subtle, implied powers of Congress because if they did not exist our Congress/law making body would be seriously hindered and ineffective.  
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices and post roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings; And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

State # of Reps State Population Habitants per Representative
California 52 36756666 706859
New York 31 19,490,297 628719
Texas 30 24,326,974 810899
Florida 23 18328340 796884
Pennsylvania 21 12448279 592775
Illinois 20 12,901,563 645078
Ohio 19 11,485,910 604522
Michigan 16 10,003,422 625214
New Jersey 13 8,682,661 667897
N. Carolina 12 9,222,414 768535
Virginia 11 7,769,089 706281
Georgia 11 9,685,744 880522
Massachuse. 10 6,497,967 649797
Indiana 10 6,376,792 637679
Wisconsin 9 5,627,967 625330
Missouri 9 5,911,605 656845
Washington 9 6,549,224 727692
Tennesse 9 6,214,888 690543
Maryland 8 5,633,597 704200
Minnesota 8 5,220,393 652549
Alabama 7 4,661,900 665986
Louisiana 7 4,410,796 630114
Arizona 6 6,500,180 1083363
Colorado 6 4,939,456 823243
Connecticut 6 3,501,252 583542
S. Carolina 6 4,479,800 746633
Kentucky 6 4,269,245 711540
Oregon 5 3,790,060 758012
Iowa 5 3,002,555 600511
Mississippi 5 2,938,618 587724
Kansas 4 2,802,134 700534
Arkansas 4 2,855,390 713848
Nebraska 3 1,783,432 594477
New Mexico 3 1,984,356 661452
Utah 3 2,736,424 912141
West Virgina 3 1,814,468 604823
Oklahoma 3 3,642,361 1214120
Nevada 2 2,600,167 1300084
N. Hampshire 2 1,315,809 657905
Hawaii 2 1,288,198 644099
Idaho 2 1,523,816 761908
Maine 2 1,316,456 658228
Rhode Island 2 1,050,788 525394
Alaska 1 686,293 686293
North Dakota 1 641,481 641481
Delaware 1 873,092 873092
Wyoming 1 532,668 532668
Montana 1 967,440 967440
South Dakota 1 804,194 804194
Vermont 1 621,270 621270
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Comments (1)

mberry said

at 11:48 am on Nov 4, 2009

I LOVE the tone of this section! Nicely done -- BUT there is a significant inaccuracy -- the Cabinet has nothing to do with casework or legislation in CONGRESS...it is in the Executive Branch. Did you mean staff??

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