Login

What is the House of Representatives? - Definition & Members

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Presidential System of Government: Roles of the President

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 The House of Representatives
  • 1:12 Members & Responsibilities
  • 2:55 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michael Knoedl

Michael teaches high school Social Studies and has a M.S. in Sports Management.

The House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress. The House and the Senate work together on bills to give to the president to put into law. Learn why we have the House of Representatives and what it is in this lesson.

The House of Representatives

Did you make a purchase today? Drive on any roads? Watch television? Pretty much everything you do as a citizen of the United States has been touched by the House of Representatives. The House, as the House of Representatives is commonly referred to, is part of the law-making body of Congress.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution set up the legislative branch. The Founding Fathers wanted the legislature settled first because they felt it was the most important element needed to keep the nascent republic strong. When discussing how to set up the legislature, there were many arguments about how to divide up the representation in the House between the states, especially in terms of which states were going to get the most representation. The most populated states wanted representation based on population because that meant they would have more power in Congress. Smaller states wanted equal representation so they would not be overpowered by the more populated states.

Ultimately, the Founding Fathers decided on a bicameral legislature. Bicameral is a fancy word for 'two houses.' The upper house, which favors the smaller states, is called the Senate. The lower house, which favors the larger states, is called the House of Representatives.

Members and Responsibilities

Representation in the House is based off of the official U.S. Census, which is the country's population count taken every ten years. So every ten years, the government reviews the population by state and assigns each state a number of representatives. There are 435 seats available for the House, which are divided out between the states after the Census is complete, and then the states get to assign the districts. Districts are the individual parts of the state that the representatives, the persons elected to the House, actually represent.

Representatives serve two-year terms, which means that every two years each member of the House is up for reelection. To get reelected, the representative needs to represent the citizens in his or her district well. If the representative is not doing what the people who elected him or her want, then the voters can choose someone else during the next election. Elections happen every even-numbered year, and newly elected members of the House take office in early January of odd-numbered years.

The person in charge of the House is called the Speaker of the House. This position is voted on and must come from the majority party, which is the party with the most representatives in the House. The speaker of the House guides the daily activities on the House floor, where Representatives discuss and debate bills.

In the House, bills can be introduced and voted on. The House is the only place a spending bill can originate, meaning the House starts the process of spending our tax money. Bills are ideas written down and proposed to each house of Congress for approval to become law. The House also has many committees that research different ideas, make proposals, and draft changes to bills.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support