The United States Congress is both a bicameral and a direct legislative body of government, made up of two houses. The U.S. Congress convenes in session once every two weeks, all being in session at one time. The U.S. Congress generally meets in Washington, D.C., from Jan. 1, 2021, to Jan. 5, 2021. All further sessions are held in the same city.
U.S. Congress: The U.S. Congress is divided into two chambers namely, the U.S. House of Representatives which are commonly referred to as the “U.S. Congress” and the U.S. Senate which are commonly known as the “U.S. Senate.” Both houses are jointly responsible for the formulation and approval of legislation which is then sent to the president for signature. In the formulation of legislative agendas, priorities are given to various legislative committees based on political influence. Congressional duties include: preparation of legislation for submission to the U.S. Congress; regulation and policy development; assistance to citizens; services and programs for the community; and provision of state assistance.
U.S. House of Representatives: The U.S. House of Representatives is the lower house of Congress. All members of U.S. House of Representatives are elected through a proportional vote. Once elected, they are assigned to one of 100 districts where they serve until the end of a congressional term. At the end of each term, new members are elected and their seats become vacant when the retiring members are replaced by other members of Congress. The U.S. House of Representatives has a smaller staff than the U.S. Senate and therefor less flexibility for a member to be recalled for misconduct or other incapacity. Unlike the U.S. Senate, members are not limited to their own party’s agenda, but may support or oppose any legislation that has been passed by the legislature.
U.S. Senate: The U.S. Senate is the upper chamber of U.S. Congress. Elected by the members of their state legislature, members of U.S. Senate must be registered voters. They cannot be members of a political party. In addition to legislative duties, the U.S. Senate is responsible for the handling of many of the country’s most delicate and important policies, such as those dealing with international relations, the budget, the administration, and various other important issues.
The U.S. House and U.S. Senate are separated by a single Joint Committee on Taxation. Each of these committees to prepare legislation and reports for submission to the U.S. Congress for consideration and approval before it becomes a part of the law. The Joint Committee on Taxation also includes a “whip team,” which is made up of senior members of Congress whose job it is to seek amendments to legislation that passes out of committee. The final decisions regarding what and how much to pass out of committees are made by the majority and minority leaders in both the Houses and in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
Federal Office of Public Safety and Security: The federal Office of Public Safety and Security administers the licensing programs for state highway patrol officers, federal law enforcement officers, and other emergency services personnel. As part of their oversight responsibility, OSP provides training and education to individual members of Congress and their staff. They also oversee compliance with grant awards, conduct background investigations, and provide annual financial and management assessments to the relevant agencies. Their budget is managed jointly by the General Services Administration and the Department of Transportation.