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What is the Difference Between a US Senator and a US Representative?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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The United States Congress consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both Senators and Representatives are responsible for representing the people of the states they serve. This involves voting and writing bills in the United States Congress. There are, however, some major differences between a United States Senator and a Representative, beginning with voting privileges. For example, a Senator has the privilege of voting on whether or not to confirm the President’s judicial nominees; United States Representatives do not have this right or responsibility.

Senators and Representatives differ in terms of the numbers present in Congress. There are 100 Senators in Congress; two Senators are allotted for each state. This number is independent of each state’s population. In contrast, the number of United States Representatives a state has is determined by the population of that particular state. There are 435 Representatives in Congress and each state has at least one Representative.

Another difference involves the length of time a Senator and a Representative are permitted to serve. A Senator represents his or her state for a six-year term. A Representative, on the other hand, serves for a two-year term.

Age and citizenship requirements are different for Senators and Representatives. A United States Senator must be at 30 years old and have at least nine years as a United States citizen under his or her belt. To become a Representative, an individual needs to be just 25 years old and have spent at least seven years as a United States citizen. Both Senators and Representatives are required to be residents of the states for which they serve.

Senators and Representatives also differ in their abilities to author certain types of bills. While both Senators and Representatives are permitted to introduce bills, Senators are restricted from introducing bills that raise revenue, such as tax bills. The Senate is permitted to reject or make amendments to such bills however.

Representatives have some unique responsibilities from which Senators are excluded. United States Representatives are responsible for choosing the President in the event that the Electoral College is unable to provide a decision. Representatives are also expected to vote on whether or not to begin the impeachment process. A Senator, on the other hand, may be called on to vote for a Vice President if the electoral vote is tied. A Senator also has the power to vote to approve treaties and it is the Senate that holds trials for impeached public officials.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a America Explained writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon943187 — On Mar 31, 2014

Because of their deeds, it will all fade away. It's just a matter of time. They are just men and they feel that they are important, and that they are wise. You have no idea what the future will bring upon mankind because of greed, power and wealth. We are mere mortals but strive to be gods. How wicked are we? We are the worst of the worst. There are a few good men in government, but most of them are puppets and slaves to rich men and their money. Those who feel it's their god given right to rule the world will be consumed from whence they came, and will be no more.

By anon330821 — On Apr 18, 2013

@anon123734: Democracy is a type of "high oligarchy." A democracy always degenerates into a "true oligarchy". A democracy does not abide by a "true constitution". (key words, true constitution).

A republic has a "true constitution" and strictly abides by it. A republic is unanimous, not majority rules (The majority being those in control which consists of government officials, including a court jury) a.k.a. the oligarchs. In a republic, those named unanimous are we the people.

Democracy = government officials have the final say.

Republic = The people in the form of representatives and jury in court and Average Joe citizens.

By anon248352 — On Feb 17, 2012

According to our United States CIA, we are a Constitution-based federal republic, but we have a strong democratic tradition.

You could find our full structure from the CIA world fact book pertaining to information to our nation, the United States.

You are wrong anon123734. We are not a democracy, we have democratic functions, but we are pure republic. Also we were called a republic way before the Republican and Democratic parties ever existed, so the name republic has nothing to do with parties. Those who are Democrats are for the Republic also, etc.

By anon123734 — On Nov 03, 2010

Whoever says we live in a republic not a democracy fails to realize that a republic is a form of democracy. Specifically, a republic is a representative democracy. The political goal of spreading such semantical confusion is as simple as Republicans wanting to lay claim to our democracy. It has nothing to do with the two parties.

By anon123364 — On Nov 01, 2010

We live in a republic, not a democracy! Very important to know the difference. Please spread the word.

By cougars — On Jul 24, 2010

@ Babalaas- you are right about the importance of getting involved. Democracies are meant to be slow and imperfect forms of government, but they best represent the majority of the population.

I contacted my local Senator John McCain about the energy bill stalled in the senate. I support the bill, but he did not. I wrote a letter to explain my position, and to my surprise, I got a two-page response.

We may not have seen eye to eye, but I feel like I have a better understanding of why he does not support the bill. The fact is that he listened, and acknowledged my opinion. It may not have ended in the result I wanted, but knowing that I have a voice matters.

By Babalaas — On Jul 24, 2010

@ Mfleming70- I think depends on your reason for writing. If you are concerned with something in your local community, your representative may be a better choice because they are often concerned with just one district, although smaller states may only have one representative that covers the whole state. In the later circumstance, it may be a good idea to write to both your senators and representative.

When you are writing concerned the passage of a piece of legislation, you should write to the person that you want to persuade to vote for or against the bill. If legislation that is important to you has passed the senate, but has stalled in the house, you should contact your representative.

In the end, whomever you contact is not as important as getting involved. Government runs better when more people are involved.

By mfleming70 — On Apr 06, 2008

For practical purposes, when would one write a Senator instead of a Representative and vice versa?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a America Explained writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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