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We Elect a U.S. Representative for How Many Years?

I voted stickers.
Members of the House of Representatives are elected for two years.

To pass the US citizenship test, you will have to answer 10 of a possible 100 questions. The following question is from the USCIS test.

We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?


Two (2).

The following is a full explanation of the USCIS question:

U.S. Representatives Are Elected for Two Year Terms

Both representatives and delegates serve two-year terms in the United States Congress. State congressional elections are held every two years, on even-numbered years, roughly 1/3 of the 435 seats are up for reelection at a time. The term for each representative then begins on January 3, the year following the election.

In the event that there is a vacancy for any seats in the House of Representatives, the affected state is required to fill the position through a special election. Each state is responsible for conducting its special congressional elections. The “replacement” candidate will only finish the remaining term of the representative he or she replaced on Capitol Hill. 

Only five members of the House of Representatives have been removed since 1861. While the House has the power to expel a member under the Constitution, this expulsion requires a two-thirds vote. Censure is a more commonly practiced form of discipline that only requires a simple majority.

The Apportionment Act

Members of the House of Representatives are elected through the popular vote. As determined through the Apportionment Act, the total number of voting United States House members is 435. This number has been consistent for over 100 years, including for 117th Congress, with only a few deviations when Hawaii and Alaska were added as states.

The number of representatives that each state is allowed to elect is determined based on the state’s population compared to the nation’s overall population. Part of the purpose of the decennial census is to determine the overall population of the country and population shifts within states and regions. This data is crucial to determining how many representatives a given state will be allowed to elect.

The apportionment process is critical to ensuring the equal representation guaranteed under the United States Constitution. Regardless of the size of any given state, each state is guaranteed the right to elect at least one congressional representative. Since California and Texas are the most populated states in the nation, they each occupy more than 10% of the available seats in the House of Representatives.

Non-Voting Members

While there are 435 voting members in the House of Representatives, there are also non-voting members. There are currently five non-voting members, reelected every two years, and one resident commissioner reelected every four years. There are no non-voting members in the Senate.

These non-voting members of the House of Representatives are delegates representing the various districts and territories of the United States. These territories include Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. While non-voting members have limited powers in Congress, they may be appointed to committees and vote within those committees. However, they are generally not authorized to participate in floor votes.

Two additional non-voting seats have been proposed for both the Cherokee Nation as well as the Choctaw Nation. However, no representative for either tribe has ever been elected or seated despite the treaties and proposals.

The Decennial Census

Every 10 years, the United States conducts its decennial census. This counting of all persons living within the United States allows the government to determine the state’s population density. Under the Apportionment Act, the number of seats for each state may increase or decrease depending upon population shifts.

Redistricting After the Census

Generally, after each decennial census, most states often redraw their district lines to match the increase or decrease in the number of representatives apportioned to them. Although uncommon, states may also change the boundaries of their districts at any time.

Once the increase or decrease in representation is determined, a state legislature is given the power to redistrict its state. As each person can only vote for candidates running for office in the district that they live in, this redistricting process plays an important role in representation.

Legislative Function

Pursuant to the Constitution, any bill that is introduced for the purpose of raising revenue or appropriation must originate from the House of Representatives. As a result of this Origination Clause, the Senate cannot initiate any taxation proposals. 

All other bill proposals may be initiated in either chamber of the United States Congress. Draft bills are presented to the chamber secretary assigning them to a House committee. These committees will then hold hearings, discussions, and debates before finally voting to pass a bill to the chamber for a floor vote. On the floor, members of the full House may then debate, discuss, and offer amendments to the bill before finally voting and sending it to the other chamber. A bill must pass in both houses before it is presented to the president, who signs them into law.

As a means of checks and balances, the legislative branch has the power of oversight over both the judicial and executive branches. Congress has the responsibility of approving appointments to both the judicial and executive branches, but they also have an obligation to investigate any potential wrongdoing in those branches. Interestingly, only one Supreme Court Justice has ever been impeached, although Justice Samuel Chase was acquitted by the Senate in 1805, thereby maintaining the independence of the judicial branch.

A Comparison With the Senate

There are many differences between the upper and lower chambers of the United States Congress. The United States Senate has certain powers that the House of Representatives does not. One of these particular powers is known as “advice and consent.” This power allows the Senate to approve treaties between the United States and other sovereign nations. The Senate also has the power of confirmation regarding the appointment of certain executive and judicial branch positions.

The House of Representatives, on the other hand, also has certain powers that the Senate does not. Any proposed bill introduced to raise revenue or appropriation has to be initiated in the lower chamber. Likewise, the power to initiate impeachment actions must begin in the House of Representatives. 

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