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Learn About Congress

House Members
There are 435 Members in the House of Representatives. Each one represents a different congressional district.

Get Your ZIP and Click! bulletWho is my Representative?
To find out who represents your congressional district, visit Write Your Representative on the House website. Enter your ZIP code, and you will find out the name of your representative as well as your congressional district number.

bulletHow can I contact my representative?
Your representative will probably list a phone number, mailing address, or e-mail address on his or her official website. If you send a letter by regular postal mail be sure you know how to address a letter to a Member.

bulletWhat are the responsibilities of representatives?
Representatives' primary responsibility is to represent the citizens in their congressional districts. Citizens should share their views, so that their representatives' decisions reflect the views of constituents. Congresspersons represent constituents by voting for or against laws that are important to the citizens in their district.
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bulletHow many Representatives does my state have?
To find out, view the Official List of Members by State on the Clerk's main website. Most representatives serve a congressional district, but some serve a whole state. Representatives who serve a whole state are called Representatives At Large. Click here for a list of New Members for the 110th Congress.

Challenge Question  

Challenge Question
States with small populations have a Member At Large who represents the entire state.

Which states are represented by Members At Large?


Bioguide graphicbulletCan I get a list of all the representatives who have served my state since the first Congress?

You can create a list using the Congressional Biographical Directory. Instead of entering a name, select your state when searching. By doing this you'll get a list of all the citizens who have served your state since the first Congress. Remember, your state might not have existed when the first Congress was formed in 1789!

bulletCould the number of Representatives allowed for my state change?
Yes. The number of Representatives allotted each state depends on the state's population. A state's population is determined by the U.S. Census, a count of all U.S. residents. The census occurs every 10 years. The most recent census was in 2000.

When a new Congress convenes after a census year, the president reports to the Clerk the population for each state and the number of representatives each state is allowed. Within 15 days, the Clerk must inform each stat governor how many representatives the state can have. The legislatures in each state are responsible for defining the boundaries of their congressional and other election districts -- a process known as redistricting.

For more information about the census and congressional apportionment, please visit the U.S. Census Bureau website.

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bulletWhat is a congressional district?
A congressional district is a geographic area whose residents are represented in the House of Representatives by the same Member. Boundaries on the state map define each congressional district. Some states have one District At Large, because their populations are not large enough to require more than one congressional district.

You can find a map of your congressional district on the National Atlas website.

The number of the congressional district is often shown after the Member's name and the state abbreviation in official Member lists (e.g., J. Dennis Hastert, IL-14).

bulletWhy are there 435 representatives but only 100 senators?
Under the U.S. Constitution, each state is entitled to two senators (each serves a 6-year term) and at least one representative (serving a 2-year term). In 1911 the size of the House was fixed by law at 433, with provision for the addition of one seat each for Arizona and New Mexico when they became states. The number of Members increased temporarily to 437 when Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as states during the 87th Congress, but the 1960 census reduced the number to 435.

Since 1941 Congress has used the method of ''equal proportions'' to calculate apportionment, to minimize the differences in populations in congressional districts.

To learn more about the apportionment of House seats 51 to 435, visit the U.S. Census Bureau website.

Challenge Question icon  

Challenge Question
Look at the Congressional Apportionment table on the Clerk's site. Find out how much the number of Representatives for your state has changed between the first and the twenty-first census. (Don't peek until you've figured it out!)

Representative requirements graphicWho can become a Member of Congress?
The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section II for the House and Section III for the Senate) lists qualifications for Members of Congress.

A Member of the House of Representatives must be at least 25 years of age when entering office, must have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and must be a resident of the state where the election occurred.

A Member of the U.S. Senate must be at least 30 years of age to enter office, must have been a U.S. citizen for nine years, and must be a resident of the state where the election occurred.

How often do representatives run for election?
Representatives are elected for a term of 2 years. The term begins at the start of a new Congress, which is set at noon on January 3rd of each odd-numbered year following a general election, unless by law a different day is chosen. Each year of the Representative's term normally makes up a separate session of a Congress. There is no Constitutional limit to the number of times a Representative can run for office.

At the start of each new Congress current and newly elected Members choose the Speaker and House officers and update the House rules. To Learn more follow A. Bill through the first day of a new Congress! 

How much are representatives paid?
The current salary for all Members is $165,200. The salary for the Speaker is $212,100. The Majority and Minority Leaders earn $183,500 per year.

Who are delegates and the resident commissioner and what do they do?
The U.S. House of Representatives has 435 Members, four delegates, and one resident commissioner. One delegate represents the District of Columbia. The other three each represent a U.S. Territory. Congress created the post of resident commissioner in 1904 to apply to Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Since 1946, only Puerto Rico has had a resident commissioner.

The delegates and the resident commissioner can sponsor legislation and vote in committees, but unlike the Members, they cannot vote in the House Chamber.

magnifying glass graphic A Closer Look
We learned that one Delegate represents the District of Columbia. That leaves three more . . .

What three U.S. Territories are represented in the House by Delegates?

Do Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have assigned seats in the Chamber?

Representatives were assigned seats until the 63rd Congress (1913) but may now sit where they choose. Generally, Democrats occupy the east side of the Chamber, on the Speaker's right, and Republicans sit across the main aisle, on the Speaker's left. Two tables each on the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle are reserved for committee leaders during debate on bills reported from their committees, and for party leaders.

How are representatives' votes recorded in the House Chamber?

Members can vote by voice or electronically, using the House Electronic Voting System in the House Chamber.

Parents & Teachers
Tools for Learning

Did You Know?
A Little Known Fact
All the House Office Buildings are named after former Speakers!

Check This Out!
Time Traveler
Travel through time with A. Bill. Choose a Time Warp and learn about House history!

Glossary Terms
Key Words
Use the glossary to learn key terms.

Checks and Balances
Conference Committee
Joint Committee
Joint Meeting
Select Committee
Standing Committee

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