This has been a federal statutory requirement since States typically redraw district boundaries after each census, though they may do so at other times, such as the Texas redistricting. Each state determines its own district boundaries, either through legislation or through non-partisan panels. Additionally, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of prohibits redistricting plans that are intended to, or have the effect of, discriminating against racial or language minority voters.
Bandemer , the Supreme Court held that gerrymandered districts could be struck down on the basis of the Equal Protection Clause , but the Court did not articulate a standard for when districts are impermissibly gerrymandered. However, the Court overruled Davis in in Vieth v. Jubelirer , and Court precedent currently holds gerrymandering to be a political question.
Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for representatives. Members are not required to live in the districts they represent, but they traditionally do. The constitutional requirements of Article I, Section 2 for election to Congress are the maximum requirements that can be imposed on a candidate.
Likewise a State could not establish additional qualifications. This post—Civil War provision was intended to prevent those who sided with the Confederacy from serving. However, disqualified individuals may serve if they gain the consent of two-thirds of both houses of Congress. Elections for representatives are held in every even-numbered year, on Election Day the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
By law, Representatives must be elected from single-member districts. After a census is taken in a year ending in 0 , the year ending in 2 is the first year in which elections for U. House districts are based on that census with the Congress based on those districts starting its term on the following Jan. In most states, major party candidates for each district are nominated in partisan primary elections , typically held in spring to late summer.
In some states, the Republican and Democratic parties choose their respective candidates for each district in their political conventions in spring or early summer, which often use unanimous voice votes to reflect either confidence in the incumbent or the result of bargaining in earlier private discussions.
Exceptions can result in so-called floor fight—convention votes by delegates, with outcomes that can be hard to predict. Especially if a convention is closely divided, a losing candidate may contend further by meeting the conditions for a primary election. The courts generally do not consider ballot access rules for independent and third party candidates to be additional qualifications for holding office and there are no federal regulations regarding ballot access.
As a result, the process to gain ballot access varies greatly from state to state, and in the case of a third party may be affected by results of previous years' elections.
In , the United States Congress passed the Uniform Congressional District Act, which requires almost all representatives be elected from single-member-districts. Sanders decision, Congress was motivated by fears that courts would impose at-large plurality districts on states that did not redistrict to comply with the new mandates for districts roughly equal in population, and Congress also sought to prevent attempts by southern states to use such voting systems to dilute the vote of racial minorities.
Louisiana is unique in that it holds an all-party "primary election" on the general Election Day with a subsequent run-off election between the top two finishers regardless of party if no candidate received a majority in the primary. The states of Washington and California now use a similar though not identical system to that used by Louisiana.
Seats vacated during a term are filled through special elections, unless the vacancy occurs closer to the next general election date than a pre-established deadline. The term of a member chosen in a special election usually begins the next day, or as soon as the results are certified. With the exception of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico , each representative and delegate serves for a two-year term.
They have a voice and can introduce bills on the floor, but cannot vote there. Representatives and Delegates serve for two-year terms, while the Resident Commissioner serves for four years. The Constitution permits the House to expel a member with a two-thirds vote.
In the history of the United States, only five members have been expelled from the House; in , three were removed for supporting the Confederate states' secession: Michael Myers D-PA was expelled after his criminal conviction for accepting bribes in , and James Traficant D-OH was expelled in following his conviction for corruption. As a check on the regional, popular, and rapidly changing politics of the House, the Senate has several distinct powers.
For example, the " advice and consent " powers such as the power to approve treaties are a sole Senate privilege.
The Senate is informally referred to as the "upper" house, and the House of Representatives as the "lower" house. Congress sets members' salaries; however, the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a change in salary but not COLA  from taking effect until after the next election of the whole House. Representatives are eligible for retirement benefits after serving for five years. Representatives use the prefix " The Honorable " before their names. A member of the House is referred to as a representative , congressman , or congresswoman.
While senators are members of Congress, the terms congressman and congresswoman are not generally used by them. All members of Congress are automatically without the option of withdrawal enrolled in the Federal Employees Retirement System , a pension system also used for federal civil servants.
They become eligible to receive benefits after five years of service two and one-half terms in the House. The FERS is composed of three elements:. Members of Congress may retire with full benefits at age 62 after five years of service, at age 50 after twenty years of service, and at any age after twenty-five years of service. They may retire with reduced benefits at ages 55 to 59 after five years of service. Depending on birth year, they may receive a reduced pension after ten years of service if they are between 55 years and 57 years of age.
However, Section d 3 D of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ACA provided that the only health plans that the federal government can make available to members of Congress and certain congressional staff are those created under the ACA or offered through a health care exchange.
The ACA and the final rule do not affect members' or staffers' eligibility for Medicare benefits. There is an Office of the Attending Physician at the U. Capitol, which current members may seek health care from for an annual fee.
Current members but not their dependents, and not former members may also receive medical and emergency dental care at military treatment facilities. House members are eligible for a Member's Representational Allowance MRA to support them in their official and representational duties to their district.
The personnel allowance is the same for all members; the office and mail allowances vary based on the members' district's distance from Washington, D. These three components are used to calculate a single MRA that can fund any expense—even though each component is calculated individually, the franking allowance can be used to pay for personnel expenses if the member so chooses. Each member may employ no more than 18 permanent employees.
Each member-elect and one staffer can be paid for one round trip between their home in their congressional district and Washington, D. The party with a majority of seats in the House is known as the majority party. The next-largest party is the minority party.
The Speaker , committee chairs, and some other officials are generally from the majority party; they have counterparts for instance, the "ranking members" of committees in the minority party.
The Constitution provides that the House may choose its own Speaker. The Constitution does not specify the duties and powers of the Speaker, which are instead regulated by the rules and customs of the House. Speakers have a role both as a leader of the House and the leader of their party which need not be the majority party; theoretically, a member of the minority party could be elected as Speaker with the support of a fraction of members of the majority party.
Under the Presidential Succession Act , the Speaker is second in the line of presidential succession behind the Vice President. The Speaker is the presiding officer of the House but does not preside over every debate.
The presiding officer sits in a chair in the front of the House chamber. The powers of the presiding officer are extensive; one important power is that of controlling the order in which members of the House speak. Moreover, the presiding officer may rule on a " point of order " a member's objection that a rule has been breached ; the decision is subject to appeal to the whole House. Speakers serve as chairs of their party's steering committee, which is responsible for assigning party members to other House committees.
The Speaker chooses the chairmen of standing committees, appoints most of the members of the Rules Committee , appoints all members of conference committees, and determines which committees consider bills. Each party elects a floor leader , who is known as the Majority Leader or Minority Leader. The Minority Leader heads their party in the House, and the Majority Leader is their party's second-highest-ranking official, behind the Speaker. Party leaders decide what legislation members of their party should either support or oppose.
Each party also elects a Whip , who works to ensure that the party's members vote as the party leadership desires. The current minority whip is Steny Hoyer , who is a member of the Democratic Party. The whip is supported by chief deputy whips. After the Conference Chair, there are differences between each party's subsequent leadership ranks.
The chairs of House committees , particularly influential standing committees such as Appropriations , Ways and Means , and Rules , are powerful but not officially part of House leadership hierarchy. Until the post of Majority Leader was created, the Chair of Ways and Means was the de facto majority leader.
When the Presidency and Senate are controlled by a different party from the one controlling the House, the Speaker can become the de facto "leader of the opposition". Since the Speaker is a partisan officer with substantial power to control the business of the House, the position is often used for partisan advantage.
In the instance when the Presidency and both Houses of Congress are controlled by one party, the Speaker normally takes a low profile and defers to the President.
For that situation the House Minority Leader can play the role of a de facto "leader of the opposition", often more so than the Senate Minority Leader, due to the more partisan nature of the House and the greater role of leadership. The House is also served by several officials who are not members. The House's chief such officer is the Clerk , who maintains public records, prepares documents, and oversees junior officials, including pages , until the discontinuation of the House pages in The Clerk also presides over the House at the beginning of each new Congress pending the election of a Speaker.
Another officer is the Chief Administrative Officer , responsible for the day-to-day administrative support to the House of Representatives. This includes everything from payroll to foodservice. The position of Chief Administrative Officer CAO was created by the th Congress following the mid-term elections , replacing the positions of Doorkeeper and Director of Non-Legislative and Financial Services created by the previous congress to administer the non-partisan functions of the House.
The Chaplain leads the House in prayer at the opening of the day. There is also a Sergeant at Arms , who as the House's chief law enforcement officer maintains order and security on House premises. Finally, routine police work is handled by the United States Capitol Police , which is supervised by the Capitol Police Board , a body to which the Sergeant at Arms belongs, and chairs in even-numbered years.
At one end of the chamber of the House is a rostrum from which the Speaker , Speaker Pro Tempore, or when in the Committee of the Whole the Chair presides. Members' seats are arranged in the chamber in a semicircular pattern facing the rostrum and are divided by a wide central aisle. Sittings of the House are generally open to the public; visitors must obtain a House Gallery pass from a congressional office. The procedure of the House depends not only on the rules, but also on a variety of customs, precedents, and traditions.
In many cases, the House waives some of its stricter rules including time limits on debates by unanimous consent. The presiding officer, the Speaker of the House enforces the rules of the House, and may warn members who deviate from them.
The Speaker uses a gavel to maintain order. In one of its first resolutions, the U. House of Representatives established the Office of the Sergeant at Arms. It is also used during the inaugural ceremonies for all Presidents of the United States.
For daily sessions of the House, the sergeant at Arms carries the mace in front of the Speaker in procession to the rostrum. It is placed on a green marble pedestal to the Speaker's right. When the House is in committee, the mace is moved to a pedestal next to the desk of the Sergeant at Arms. The Constitution provides that a majority of the House constitutes a quorum to do business.
House rules prevent a member from making a point of order that a quorum is not present unless a question is being voted on. The presiding officer does not accept a point of order of no quorum during general debate, or when a question is not before the House.
During debates, a member may speak only if called upon by the presiding officer. The presiding officer decides which members to recognize, and can therefore control the course of debate. Speaker" or "Madam Speaker". Only the presiding officer may be directly addressed in speeches; other members must be referred to in the third person.
In most cases, members do not refer to each other only by name, but also by state, using forms such as "the gentleman from Virginia", "the distinguished gentlewoman from California", or "my distinguished friend from Alabama". There are permanent seats on the House Floor and four tables, two on each side.
These tables are occupied by members of the committee that have brought a bill to the floor for consideration and by the respective party leadership. Members address the House from microphones at any table or "the well," the area immediately in front of the rostrum.
Per the constitution, the House determines the rules according to which it passes legislation. The rules are in principle open to change with each new Congress, but in practice each new session amends a standing set of rules built up over the history of the body in an early resolution published for public inspection. For instance, the committee determines if amendments to the bill are permitted. An "open rule" permits all germane amendments, but a "closed rule" restricts or even prohibits amendment.
Debate on a bill is generally restricted to one hour, equally divided between the majority and minority parties. Each side is led during the debate by a "floor manager", who allocates debate time to members who wish to speak. When debate concludes, the motion in question is put to a vote. The presiding officer then announces the result of the voice vote. A member may however challenge the presiding officer's assessment and "request the yeas and nays" or "request a recorded vote".
The request may be granted only if it is seconded by one-fifth of the members present. In practice, however, members of congress second requests for recorded votes as a matter of courtesy. Some votes are always recorded, such as those on the annual budget.
A recorded vote may be taken in one of three different ways. Members use a personal identification card to record their votes at 46 voting stations in the chamber.
Votes are usually held in this way. A second mode of recorded vote is by teller. Members hand in colored cards to indicate their votes: Teller votes are normally held only when electronic voting breaks down.
Finally, the House may conduct a roll call vote. The Clerk reads the list of members of the House, each of whom announces their vote when their name is called. This procedure is only used rarely such as for the election of a Speaker because of the time consumed by calling over four hundred names.
Voting traditionally lasts for, at most, fifteen minutes, but it may be extended if the leadership needs to "whip" more members into alignment. Presiding officers may vote like other members. They may not, however, vote twice in the event of a tie; rather, a tie vote defeats the motion.
The House uses committees and their subcommittees for a variety of purposes, including the review of bills and the oversight of the executive branch. The appointment of committee members is formally made by the whole House, but the choice of members is actually made by the political parties.
Generally, each party honors the preferences of individual members, giving priority on the basis of seniority. Life is getting short after I know from experience.
It would stop special interest groups from helping to get things like Cap and Tax and this so called health reform bill through. What would be the pros and cons? Term Limits has just launched an on-line petition for Congressional term limits.
The goal is to compile a list of Americans who support this reform that is so enormous it cannot be ignored. One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK! View slideshow of images above.
Watch the Did-You-Know slideshow. Jan Maxwell Revised By: Lucy Oppenheimer Images By: This Day in History. The Star Spangled Banner poem was written.
Initial Terms All U. Debating the Issue The idea of term limits, in Congress and in politics generally, is one that has been debated in most countries for centuries. Court Rulings In May of , the U. Looking Forward Whether there will ever be term limits in Congress is largely a matter for the public to decide. You might also Like. What Are the Duties of Congress? What is a Majority Whip? What is a Standing Committee? What is Involved in Making Public Policy?
Discuss this Article anon Post 24 Why not start a petition? Congress doesn't work for the American people. In February , the US Senate voted on an amendment. Congressional term limits would almost if not eliminate unhealthy politics.
There's no sense in complaining about term limits because there's not one lousy thing you can do about it! As a "baby-boomer", when I was in school we were taught there were term limits on congressmen! Do you really think your so called "vote" makes a difference? I would like to sign up! I'm fed up with the current situation in congress and would like to see something done about it.
Without the worries for corruption, are there any other issues about the term limits? Where is the clarion call in support of the idea of "free market" regarding freedom to choose? While we sit around and wait on the lack of action of passing a term limits amendment by the people we elected in the first place, let's at least vote everyone of these people out of office and start with a clean house.
Term limits just end up increasing the influence of lobbyists. We already have term limits. I agree there should be term limits. Even though Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives after the election, there is once again significant turnover in committee and subcommittee chair positions.
Beginning in the mids, Republicans limited their chair positions to three terms six years. For the new Congress, that means new chairs on many subcommittees, as well as new leadership in committees from Appropriations to Energy and Commerce. These term limits were intended to bring fresh new ideas to stale lawmaking institutions. But our forthcoming research shows that term limits have a different impact as well: House of Representatives from Unsurprisingly, being in the majority party, having greater seniority or serving as a committee chair all contribute to lawmaking success.
Serving as a committee or subcommittee chair, however, is not easy. It often takes a while for chairs to figure out how to do this and move bills effectively through the legislative labyrinth. We have found that the legislative effectiveness of chairs increases the longer they serve in that role. The graph below shows the average effectiveness and committee and subcommittee chairs at various points in their tenure.
To get a sense of the scale, each additional point in the Legislative Effectiveness Score is equivalent to shepherding a major bill through to law.
Term limits in the United States apply to many offices at both the federal and state level, and date back to the American Revolution. Abraham Lincoln was elected to the United States House of Representatives in under such a bargain, and he returned home to Springfield after a single congressional term because.
Each member of the House of Representatives is initially elected to serve a two-year term, while senators are typically elected for six years. The term limits debate normally focuses on how many times a person can be reelected, either consecutively or in sum.
Aug 17, · The term of office for the US House of Representatives is two years; there are no term limits. Representatives may be elected for as many terms as the voters wish, for as long as the Representative chooses to serve. Term limits in the United States. From Ballotpedia. Jump to and may well have contributed to the so-called "Republican Revolution," as the Republicans wrested control of the United States House of Representatives from the Democratic Party for the first time since the United States elections. that states cannot impose term limits.
House of Representatives Candidates Questions Posed: Would the candidate vote for or co-sponsor the current House Amendment for Term Limits H.J. Res introduced by Rep. Salmon (AZ). If fact, U.S. Senators and Representatives from 23 states faced term limits from to , when the U.S. Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional with its decision in the case of U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton.