Orientation and Getting Started
Early Development of the Legislative Branch and the Problem of Representation
Enumerated Powers of Congress
Implied, Expansive, and Limited Powers
The Two Congresses: Representation and Lawmaking
Separation of Powers and Interaction between the Branches
Institutional Development and Change
Congress and the American People

Bicameralism Today

The Seventeenth Amendment made Senators more like members of the House in terms of representation—like House members, Senators would need to be responsive to the interests and opinions of voters rather than state legislators. But, at least until the 1980s, the Senate operated on the basis of norms that distinguished its practices and politics from the House. Seniority, reciprocity, legislative work, specialization, and courtesy informed the behavior of most senators. By the 1980s, those norms began to erode as a combination of rising partisanship and individual entrepreneurship conspired to make the Senate a more polarized and individualistic body. (Sinclair, 1989) At least in terms of partisanship, and responsiveness to partisanship, the Senate today seems more like the House. However, differences in organization and rules between the two chambers make the House a different type of lawmaking body than the Senate. The House runs on the principle and practice of majority rule, whereas the Senate emphasizes individual and minority rights. A good deal of the differences relate to the sizes of the two chambers, an artifact and outgrowth of the Constitution.


Bicameralism: Similarities and Differences Between the House and Senate



  • Growing party polarization
  • Constituency service orientation
  • Interest groups reinforce constituent opinions


  • Chamber Size
  • Leadership
  • Rules
  • Agenda
  • Constituent Size
  • Length of Terms         
  • Staggered elections
  • Committee Appointments
  • Re-election rates
  • Fundraising