Congress (True Books, Government)
What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer
the Following Questions:
1. What happened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
in May, 1787?
Fifty-five delegates met at the State House for the Constitutional
Delegates came from twelve of the thirteen
states: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey,
New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina,
South Carolina, and Georgia. Did you
know Rhode Island did not send any delegates?
The Articles of Confederation was ratified
in 1781, and provided for a weak and ineffective central government.
The delegates met in 1787, to draft a new plan establishing a
stronger federal government. After four months of discussing and
compromising, the Constitution of the United States was written.
2. How many branches
of government are established in the Constitution of the United
Three. The three branches of government are the legislative branch
(Congress), the executive branch (President), and the judicial
branch (Supreme Court). Article I of the Constitution establishes
the legislative branch which makes the laws. Article II
establishes the executive branch which enforces the laws. Article
III establishes the judicial branch which interprets the laws.
3. True or False: The
Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
True. Article I of the Constitution establishes the legislative
branch of the government which is the United States Congress.
The Congress is a bicameral system which means it is made up of
two chambers (or houses). One chamber is called the House of Representatives,
and the other chamber is called the Senate.
During the Constitutional Convention, delegates
from large states wanted the population to determine the numbers
of members of Congress, and delegates from small states wanted
each state to have the same number of members.
Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth (both
from Connecticut), suggested an idea to balance the interests
of the large and small states. The House of Representatives would
be elected according to population. This pleased the large states
because the large states would have more representatives. The
Senate would be made up of two Senators from each state. This
pleased the small states because each state would have the same
number of Senators. This compromise is known as the Great Compromise.
4. True or False: Every
bill the Congress passes becomes law.
False. In order for a bill to became law, a bill must be passed
by the Congress and signed by the president.
First, a bill must pass both houses of
Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate). Then the
bill goes to the president. Once on the president's desk, there
are several ways a bill becomes law or gets vetoed:
If the president signs the bill, it becomes law.
If the president vetoes the bill, it does not become law.
If the president fails to sign a bill within ten days and the
Congress is in session, the bill becomes law.
If the president fails to sign a bill within ten days and the
Congress is adjourned (not in session), the bill is vetoed.
This is known as a "pocket veto."
If the president vetoes a bill, the bill
can still become law if both houses of Congress pass the bill
by a two-thirds majority. This is known as "overriding a veto."
Did you know veto means to
The Supreme Court can undo any law passed
by the Congress by declaring it unconstitutional. Congress can
then pass another version of the law.
5. How many members
are in the House of Representatives?
435. In 1911, Congress limited the number of seats in the House
of Representatives to 435.
The seats of the House of Representatives
are based on population, and the larger states have more members
in the House of Representatives then smaller states.
Every ten years, the U.S. government takes
the national census which counts the number of people living in
the country. The census numbers determine how many representatives
each state will have. California is the most populated state,
and therefore, has the most members. California has fifty-two
members. Each state has at least one member. Did
you know Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and Vermont only
have one member?
Members of the House of Representatives
are elected to a two-year term by the constituents in their district.
The Constitution of the United States requires a representative
be a U.S. citizen for at least seven years
be at least twenty-five years old
live in the state in which he or she serves
There is no requirement the representatives
live in the actual district in which they represent.
The leader of the House of Representatives
is the Speaker of the House. In 2002, the Speaker is Denny Hastert,
a Republican from Illinois. Hastert was chosen from members of
the Republican party and elected by the House. Did
you know the Speaker of the House is the second in
order (after the vice president) of succession to the President
of the United States?
6. How many senators
are in the Senate?
100. Each state has two senators regardless of population. There
are fifty states in the Union, and therefore, there are 100 Senators.
Since 1913, Senators have been elected by the people who live
in each state.
Senators are elected to a six-year term
by the constituents in their states. Every two years, one-third
of the senate seats are up for re-election. The Constitution of
the United States requires a senator to:
be a U.S. citizen for at least nine years
be at least thirty years old
live in the state in which he or she serves
The Senate confirms members of the president's
Cabinet and federal judges. For example, when the president nominates
a person for the U.S. Supreme Court, the Senate must confirm that
person by a majority vote. The nominee is referred to the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary to be interviewed and investigated.
The Judiciary Committee first votes, and then the entire Senate
votes on this person. If the Senate votes in favor of this person,
he or she becomes a Supreme Court Justice. If the Senate votes
against this person, then the president nominates another person.
This is an example of "checks and balances."
The Senate also ratifies (or accepts) treaties.
Treaties are agreements the president makes with other countries.
The Senate must approve treaties by a two-thirds majority. This
is another example of "checks and balances."
What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the
Bill: A proposed law
Citizen: Person entitled to full
legal rights and privileges
Majority: The larger group
Minority: The smaller group
Population: The number of people
living in an area
Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the
Following Questions for Your FREE
a. Which of the following Articles of the U.S.
Constitution establishes the United States Congress?
a) Article I
b) Article II
c) Article III
d) Article IV
The Constitution of the United States is
made up of seven Articles. The first three Articles describe the
three branches of government. Article I describes the legislative
branch. It consists of the U.S. Congress which contains both the
House of Representatives and the Senate. Article II describes
the executive branch. It consists of the President and Vice President.
Article III describes the judicial branch. It consists of the
U.S. Supreme Court.
b. Describe how the
The Congress is made up of two separate chambers: the House of
Representatives and the Senate. Each chamber meets separately.
Sometimes the Congress comes together for a joint session. This
happens when the president delivers the State of the Union or
when a foreign leader addresses the Congress.
Congress makes laws for the United States.
Its laws tax and spend, regulate trade, and declare war. Congress
also decides which states will be admitted to the Union. Did
you know Hawaii became the fiftieth state in 1959?
The party with the greatest number of representatives
in each chamber is called the majority party and controls that
chamber. The other party is called the minority party. For example,
in 2002, the Republicans are the majority party in the House of
Representatives, and the Democrats are the majority party in the
Congress has committees which hold congressional
hearings to study problems and new ideas. Members of the majority
party are chosen as the chairpersons of these committees.
Some committees are permanent, and others
are set up to discuss a particular bill. When a bill is introduced
in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, it is referred
to a committee to hold hearings and have further discussions.
For example, a bill regarding health care, may be referred to
the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Some of the committees in the House of
and the Workforce
Some of the committees in the Senate include:
Education, Labor and Pensions
c. What is the Congressional
It is a report containing everything decided on or discussed by
the Congress, except for some secret military information.
d. Name the two largest
political parties in the United States.
The Republican party and the Democratic party.
In 2002, the Republican party controls
the House of Representatives, and the Democratic party controls
the Senate. Each party chooses its own leaders. The leaders schedule
and control the discussion of different bills.
In the House of Representatives, Republican
Denny Hastert is the Speaker of the House, Republican Dick Armey
is the Majority Leader, and Democrat Richard Gephardt is the Minority
In the Senate, Democrat Thomas Daschle
is the Majority Leader, and Republican Trent Lott is the Minority
e. Have you contacted
your Representative or Senator?
You can write your Representative or Senator a letter to voice
your opinion or to arrange a tour of the Capitol during your next
visit to Washington, D.C.
You can address you letters:
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Washington, DC 20510
f. What is a Congressional
A young person who works in the Congress. Every year, seventy-four
high school juniors are chosen to help in the U.S. Congress. They
are called pages.
You can also work as an intern for a Representative
g. Use five of the words
in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
starts in Congress as a bill.
I am a citizen of the United
The "F" in FBI stands for "Federal."
A majority consists of over
Sometimes I don't get my way when my opinion is in the minority.
The population of California
is larger than the population of Delaware.
h. Have a parent or friend give you
a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.
More Valuable Information about the
U.S. Government Bookstore
IMA Hero U.S. Capitol
Photos & Links
IMA Hero Constitution
of the United States Links
IMA Hero U.S. Government & Washington, D.C. Links
to the U.S. Government for Kids (Government Printing Office)
United States House
THOMAS: U.S. Congress
on the Internet (Library of Congress)
of Congress (National Archives)
Museum of American History (Smithsonian)