Press "Enter" to skip to content

Fast Fact: United States Congress

The United States Congress is the part of the United States government that makes the laws. Because of this, it is sometimes called the “Legislative Branch”. The US Congress meets in the US Capitol, Washington, DC.

The US Congress has two parts, called houses: The United States House of Representatives   and the United States Senate  . This two house system is known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameral means “two rooms”, and a legislature means a group of people who make laws. The House of Representatives has 435 members, split between the states depending on how many people live in each state. The Senators has 100 members – two from each state.

Seal of the United States Congress
Seal of the United States Congress
(Source: Ipankonin, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The main job of Congress is to write, discuss, and pass laws (legislation  ). Until a new law is passed, it is called a bill. For Congress to pass a bill, both houses must pass exactly the same bill. More than half of the members of each house have to vote for the bill in order for it to pass. After both houses pass a bill, the bill is sent to the President. If the President likes the bill and signs it within 10 days, the bill becomes a law. If the president does not like the bill, he or she can veto it (say no to it) and send the bill back to Congress. If the president vetoes the bill, Congress can override the veto (make the bill a law anyway) by having more than two thirds of its members vote for the bill. If this happens, the bill becomes a law even though the president vetoed it.



Most news on is appropriate for all ages. When there is news that may not be suitable for all ages, we try to tag it. You can use the setting below to control whether content tagged in this manner is shown.