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Are There State Senators and Federal Senators?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The concise answer to this question is: yes. In the United States, each state sends two senators to the federal Senate, which meets in Washington, DC. Most states also have their own, scaled down legislatures, which handle lawmaking and legislative issues for the individual state. Many states have adopted a bicameral system like that used in Congress, with a lower house of assembly members and an upper house of senators.

Federal senators are elected to terms of six years each, while members of the lower house of Congress, called the House of Representatives, serve for two years. The longer terms are designed to make the Senate less prone to fluctuations in American politics, and to foster long running professional relationships between members. Every two years, one-third of the terms in the Senate expire, ensuring that new legislators are regularly elected.

Senators represent their states, rather than individual districts within their states, like Representatives do. In order to serve at the federal level, someone must be at least 30 years of age and a resident of the state that he or she wishes to represent. In addition, the candidate must be a United States citizen. They are elected in general elections in their home states, and senators from the same state often work together to protect the interests of their native states. There are currently 100 members of the Senate, two from each of the 50 states.

State senators are elected by individual districts within their home states. Their number varies, depending on the population of the state and how its districts have been apportioned. In states with a bicameral legislature, these legislators work much like members at the federal level, as a more deliberative body rather than a body focused solely on lawmaking. Requirements to run for office as a state senator vary, depending on the state's constitution, but they are generally less stringent than those for federal offices.

Because state senators represent individual districts, they tend to be more accountable to their constituents than those at the federal level. Constituents can contact the offices of their officials to discuss specific issues of concern, and state senators are expected to represent the interests and needs of their district in the legislature. Many go on to seek careers in the US Congress.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a America Explained researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Kristee — On Nov 26, 2012

@lighth0se33 – It is quite possible to get help from a state senator. My uncle had been trying for years to get on disability, because he was a veteran with a bad back and trouble walking, and after he had exhausted every other route, he contacted a state senator.

This senator listened to his story and told him that he would help him. Within a couple of weeks, my uncle received his first disability check.

He was so thrilled that he told everyone he knew how helpful the senator had been. I think this type of compassionate behavior is what eventually got this senator elected to the federal Senate.

By lighth0se33 — On Nov 25, 2012

How hard is it to find a state senator who will listen to your needs and do something to help you? Are they as alienated from their constituents as federal senators are, or is it fairly easy to talk to them and get things accomplished?

By Perdido — On Nov 24, 2012

I have lived in Mississippi for thirty-four years, and it bothers me that I am just now learning that we have MS state senators and separate federal senators. I always assumed that the governor and district supervisors decided on all things within the state government, but I had no idea we had a bunch of senators in our own local version.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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