Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum




THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

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More than any other part of our government, the House of Representatives is directly responsible and responsive to the people. A representative speaks for about 550,000 people in his or her own district--the district in which he or she lives.

On the other hand, a senator speaks for all the people in his or her state. A senator, therefore, must consider the interests of all the people in his or her state whether they are farmers, businessmen, laborers, or oil millionaires.

A representative can have a more narrow focus on issues, because he or she speaks for the people in a smaller area. He or she can travel the represented area and hear the complaints and hopes of the people in the district. When people in his or her district visit Washington, the representative tries to see them and make arrangements for them to see special sites of interest.

The Hall in the House of Representatives has certain activities take place within its walls. Here the President speaks to the joint sessions of the Congress. Here decisions are made on war and peace. Here over 218 million people act through their representatives. Here issues of the most importance to world history are decided. Here laws are made. Here billions and billions of dollars are budgeted out of the taxes Americans pay into the Treasury of the United States.

The House of Representatives has special powers that no other branch has. It has the power--

1. To start all revenue (money) bills.

2. To impeach civil officers.

3. To elect a President if no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes.

QUESTIONS:

1. Why might a representative be able to more quickly respond to a citizen's concern about a personal issue?

2. Where does the President give his State of the Union message each year? Read part of one of President Truman's State of the Union messages by visiting Truman Speeches

3. Using this web site, find the names of all the representatives from your state. Congress.gov Resources

List the names of the representatives from your state on a separate sheet of paper. Notice that each one has a district number next to his or her name. Each state is divided into congressional districts. Which district do you live in and who is your representative?