Difference Between House and Senate

Main Difference – House vs Senate

House and Senate are two distinctive representative bodies in the context of bicameral parliamentary systems. The term ‘bicameral legislature’ refers to any lawmaking body of a government which consists of two separate houses for the lawmaking procedure. These two houses are the House of Representatives or commonly referred to as the ‘House’ and the ‘Senate’. More than half the world’s governments possess bicameral legislature. However, the name used to House and the Senate differs according to the bicameral parliamentary system of the particular state. The main difference between House and Senate is that House consists of representatives that are proportional to the population of the states whereas the Senate comprises of two representatives from each state despite their population.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is the House
      – Definition, Role, Representatives
2. What is the Senate
      – Definition, Role, Senators
3. What are the Similarities Between House and Senate
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between House and Senate
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Bicameral Legislature, House, Senate, Senators, House of Representatives, Congress

Difference Between House and Senate - Comparison Summary

What is the House

House is often known as the ‘House of Representatives’, ‘House of Delegates’, House of Commons’, ‘House of Assembly’ and ‘Legislative Council’ as well.  This is the legislative body in the bicameral parliamentary system which comprises of the citizen elected representatives.

House is also known as the lower house of the bicameral legislative structure. The House has several exclusive powers: the power to initiate revenue bills, to impeach officials, and to elect the President in case there is no majority in the Electoral College. They can impeach officials who are then tried in the Senate.

In the United States Congress, the bicameral concept of shared representation is exemplified by the by the House of Representatives, whose 435 members represent the interests of all residents of the states they represent. Thus, each state has a number of representatives in the House proportional to the population of the states. The representatives serve a two years shorter period of term in the House.

Main Difference - House vs Senate

Figure 1: The House of Representatives in the US Congress

The House is chaired by the Speaker of the House who is a member of the body. It works in a more organized and hierarchic way compared to the Senate.

What is the Senate?

Senate is the assembly or the upper house of the bicameral legislature of a government. The members or legislators of a senate are known as ‘senators’. Senate comprises of a smaller number of representatives when compared to that of the House. Senators are elected by and represent all voters of their state. Senate is considered to be more aristocratic.

The main role of the Senate is to approve the suggested legislation by the House. Thus, the time taken for a law to get approved by the Senate is more compared to time taken by the House

When the House considers a bill, individual members tend to base their votes primarily on how the bill might impact the people of their local district, while Senators tend to consider how the bill would impact the nation as a whole. Moreover, Senate is considered to be more prestigious and a more deliberative body compare with the House. 

Second in the US Congress, the Senate comprises of 100 members (two from each state) and they represent the interests of their state governments. The Senators serve a longer period of term (six years) when compared to that of the Representatives of the House.

Difference Between House and Senate

Fig 02: The US Senate

The word senate is also used when referring to any powerful authority characteristically composed by the eldest members of a community, as a deliberative body of a faculty in an institution of higher learning is often called a senate.

Similarities Between House and Senate

  • Both are representative bodies in the bicameral legislature.
  • Both serve in the lawmaking procedure.
  • The members to both are elected and selected by the common people’s direct electoral vote.
  • Both chambers should have to pass any proposed legislature for it to become a law.

Difference Between House and Senate

Definition

House: House is the lower chamber of the bicameral legislature.

Senate:  Senate is the upper chamber of the bicameral legislature.

Constitutional Powers

House:  House initiates all revenue bills and articles of impeachment.

Senate: Senate provides advice and consent to the treaties and major presidential appointments while trying impeached officials.

Policy

House: House focuses on the tax and revenue policy.

Senate:  Senate focuses on the foreign policy.

Structure

House: House consists of more committees and subcommittees. It is also more hierarchical organized, with power distributed less evenly among the members.

Senate: Senate consists of fewer committees and subcommittees. It is less hierarchically organized, with power distributed evenly among the members.

Serving Term

House: The representatives of the House serve a period of two years.

Senate: The Senators of the Senate serve a period of six years.

Number of Seats

House: The number of seats of the representatives of the House is proportional to the population of the particular state. The US House of representatives consists of 435 representatives.

Senate: There is a fixed number, which is only two senators, serving for one state in spite of the population of the states. The US Senate consists of 100 senators.

Members

 House: The members of the House are commonly known as the ‘Representatives’ and they are highly specified.

Senate: The members of the Senate are known as ‘Senators’ and they are generalists.

Age

House: The minimum age to be elected as a Representative in the House is 25 years of age.

Senate: The minimum age to be elected as a Senator in the Senate is 30 years of age.

Conclusion

The representation at the central or federal level of government for both the individual citizens of the country, as well as the legislative bodies of country’s states or other political subdivisions is provided by Bicameral legislatures. Bicameral legislature consists mainly of two chambers commonly known as the House and the Senate. Both these bodies work together in the lawmaking procedure of a state. The house comprises a number of representatives proportional to that of the state’s population whereas the number of Senators in the Senate is fixed without considering the population of the states. This is the difference between House and Senate.

References:

1.Longley, Robert. “What are Bicameral Legislatures and Why Does the US Have One?” ThoughtCo, 28 Mar. 2017, Available here.
2.“The House Explained.” The House Explained | House.Gov, Available here.
3. O’Connor, Karen, Larry J. Sabato, Stefan D. Haag, and Gary A. Keith. 2004. American Government: Continuity and Change. Pearson Education Inc. p. 226.; Edwards, David V. and Alessandra Lippucci. 1998. Practicing American Politics: An Introduction to Government. Worth Publishers. p. 417.
4. Study.com, Study.com, Available here.
5. Shmoop Editorial Team. “Bicameral Structure of Congress.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 2 Dec. 2017.  

Image Courtesy:

1. “US House Committee” Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “111th US Senate class photo“By U.S. Senate, 111th Congress, Senate Photo Studio (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

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