CONGRESS, UNITED STATES. The legislative branch of the Federal Oovernment of the United States, It was instituted by the Constitution, which prescribes its membership and defines its powers. It has no general legislat ive power, such as is enjoyed by the British Parliament, and, in a lesser degree, by the legislatures of the several American States; but it has only such fun•tim, and authority as the Constitution, expressly or by necessary implication. has eonferred upon it. Acting in conjunction with the President. and the Federal judiciary, it exercises the sovereign power of the people of the United States. in so far as that power has been committed to the Central Government.
is composed of two 'houses.' or chambers—a Senate and a ]louse of Representa tives. It is not, however, as is generally as sumed to he the ease, modeled upon the British Parliament, with its House of Lords and House of Commons, nor is its bicameral form due to any general agreement on the part of the framers of the Constitution that that type of legislature was theoretically preferable to a legislature of a simpler type. The Continental Congress, under whose direction the War of the Rebellion was waged, had after the adoption of the Articles of Confederation, as before, only a single cham ber. But this was not of a popular character, and it is not the house of Representatives, but the Senate, which represents it in the present Congress. These first American congresses rep resented not the people of the Colonies and States, but the Colonies and States themselves, and it was to preserve the weight a-nd dignity of the States among themselves and especially of the smaller and less populous States as against the larger and more influential ones, that the Senate was instituted as a counterweight to the popular branch of the National Legislature.
The Senate is composed of two Senators from each State, and its membership has accordingly varied from twenty-two in the first Congress (when eleven States constituted the Union) to ninety at the present time (1902). The Con stitution prescribes that Senators shall be chosen by the legislatures of the several States for a term of six years. and constitutes them a perma nent and continuing body by providing a method of classification, whereunder the term of one class shall continuously overlap that of another, the terms of one-third of the members expiring every two years. Senators must be thirty years of age and residents of the State for which they shall be chosen. The presiding officer of the Senate is the Vice-President of the United States, but he has no part in its deliberations and no vote unless the Sena tors are equally divided. The rule of the
Congress of the Confederation which preceded the Constitution, that the voting should be by States, each State represented having one vote, was not retained in the creation of the Senate. it being provided by the Constitution that each Senator shall have an individual vote. Senators receive a compensation fixed by Con gress. of $5000 a year, with a small allowance for stationery and mileage.
The House of Representatives is not a perma nent or continuing body, but its entire member ship is renewed simultaneously every second year. Its members are chosen by popular vote, and it is provided that they shall he appor, tinned among the several States included in the Union according to their respective num bers. The Constitution, as adopted. provided that for the purpose of apportionment the popu !fawn of a State should be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons of the whole number of slaves. The basis of apportionment fixed by the Con stitution for the first enumeration was one Rep resentative for every 30.000 inhabitants. with the proviso that each State should have at least one Representative. The first 1-louse num bered 65. and successive enumerations and ap portionments have varied the number of Repre sentatives as follows: in 1793, 105; 1803, 141 1313, 1St; 1823, 213; 1833, 240; 1343, 223; 1853, 233; 1363 (during the Civil War), 243; 1373, 293; 1333, 325; 1391, 357; 1901, 336. The basis of apportionment under the twelfth census (1900) is one Representative to every 194.182 inhabitants. This furnishes the following repre sentation for the several States: It is further provided by the Constitution that Representatives shall be at least twenty-tive years of age and residents of the States in which they are chosen. They receive an annual salary, determined by Congiess, the amount of which at present is $5000. The House of Representatives chooses its own presiding officer, called the Speaker, from among its members. In the process of time this has become an office of great power and importance, ranking, perhaps, next after that of the President in influence and authority. This aggrandizement of the Speaker of the House of Representatives has resulted from the control over legislation. which, as the leader of the dominant political party in the House and tinder the committee system which has come to prevail in Congress, he has gradu ally acquired. He does not, upon becoming Speaker, lose his right to vote or otherwise to participate in the proceedings of the House.