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What is the difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives in the US?
Congress: Parliament consists of 2 chambers in the USA
After independence from England, the United States opted for a British-style parliamentary system. That means: The American parliament - called the Congress - has two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives corresponds to our Bundestag in many ways: It votes on laws and has control functions over the President. The House - as the House of Representatives is also called - can, for example, initiate impeachment proceedings. The 435 MPs are elected by the citizens in their respective constituencies, every two years.
The Senate is much smaller. It only has 100 members, two per state - no matter how big the state is. It thus represents the interests of the federal states, similar to how the German Bundesrat represents the federal states - but that's where the similarities end. The members of the Senate are also directly elected by those entitled to vote and remain in office for a total of six years.
The Senate has far more extensive powers than the German Bundesrat. It controls the president, it votes on the appointment of ministers and high judges, and it ratifies international treaties.
Live blog about the events at the Capitol | tagesschau.de
The President, Senate and House of Representatives are elected separately
In Germany it is like this: The Bundestag elects the Chancellor - that is why, conversely, the Federal Government always has a majority, at least in Parliament. In the USA, however, the President, Senate and House of Representatives are each elected separately.
If the president's party doesn't have a majority in the Senate, the president has a harder time getting his laws and programs through the Senate. And also his cabinet. Because the Senate can theoretically reject a minister.
Conversely, if the presidential party also has a majority in the Senate - like the Republicans under President Donald Trump - the president is much more powerful. If Trump's Republicans had also made up the majority in the House of Representatives, Trump would have been able to "rule through" to a certain extent. In the 2018 mid-term elections, however, the Democrats were able to win back the majority there, so that at least one point Trump faced headwinds. The House of Representatives has also started impeachment proceedings against him, but the Republicans in the Senate have blocked it.
The text and audio of this post are licensed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Creative Commons license.
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