Here’s a quick primer for those of us who might be a little foggy on the civics we learned in high school!
- Each state in the US has two senators. Each person in Texas has the same two Senators – Ted Cruz (R) and John Cornyn (R).
- Texas is divided into 36 Congressional Districts – each person lives in the District of one Member of Congress. In Austin, there are 6 Congressional Districts (35, 10, 25, 21, 31, 17). Thanks to gerrymandering, all Austin Congressmen but one are Republicans.
- We are each the constituents of two Senators and one Congressman. While “congress” technically refers to both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Representatives are often called “Members of Congress” or “Congressman/woman.”
- Senators serve terms of six years and Congressmen serve terms of two years. Senators are elected by popular vote within the state. Congressmen are elected by people who live within their district.
- For a bill to become a law, it is proposed in the House of Representatives or the Senate. From there, it goes to committee, then to the House of Representatives for a vote. If the bill is passed there, it goes to the Senate; if passed there it goes to the President for final approval.
- The Senate’s unique duties include ratifying treaties and confirming Cabinet Secretaries (Secretary of State, Secretary of Education, etc), Supreme Court Justices, Federal Judges, other federal officials, and Ambassadors. The presiding official of the Senate is the Vice President of the US (son to be Mike Pence).
- The House of Representatives’ unique duties include the initiation of all bills related to revenue (sets the federal budget), the impeachment of federal officers (who are sent to the Senate for trial). The presiding officer is the Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan).
Here’s a quick primer on the Texas Legislature for those working at the state level.