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Congress vs. Senate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on May 31, 2024
Congress is a bicameral legislative body of the U.S. federal government, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate is one of the two chambers of the Congress, consisting of 100 members, two from each state.

Key Differences

In the United States, the term "Congress" is used to describe the legislative branch of the federal government, consisting of two separate houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate is thus a component of Congress, with specific duties and powers assigned by the Constitution. The number of representatives in the House is based on state population, while the Senate has equal representation from each state, with two senators per state.
Congress, in its entirety, plays a pivotal role in the governance of the United States by crafting, deliberating, and passing legislation. The Senate, as a distinct chamber within Congress, not only participates in the legislative process but also has exclusive powers, such as confirming presidential appointments and ratifying treaties.
The members of Congress, which includes both Senators and Representatives, are elected by the American public, but the methods and tenure differ. Senators serve for six years and are elected by statewide vote, ensuring each state, regardless of population size, has equal representation in the Senate. This principle underscores a key function of the Senate: to represent the interests of the states as entities.
In an international context, the term "congress" can mean a large meeting or conference, and does not necessarily pertain to a legislative body as it does in the U.S. The Senate, in the American context, remains as a term distinctly related to a legislative chamber, reflecting a particularity of U.S. governance, wherein it acts as a crucial part of the larger Congress.

Comparison Chart


Bicameral legislative body
One of two chambers of Congress


Consists of the Senate and House of Representatives


House based on population, Senate equally per state
Two members from each state

Term Length

House: 2 years, Senate: 6 years
6 years

Unique Powers

Initiates revenue-raising bills (House)
Confirms appointments, ratifies treaties

Congress and Senate Definitions


A group coming together to deliberate and make decisions.
The congress of eagles was seen gathering in the high mountain peaks.


A governing and advisory council in ancient Rome.
The Roman Senate played a crucial role in the administration of the Roman Republic.


A bicameral legislative body in the U.S.
Congress is responsible for making federal laws.


The upper house of the legislatures in several U.S. states.
The State Senate passed a new educational reform bill.


A social gathering or event.
The book lovers attended a congress dedicated to science fiction novels.


A deliberative or governing body at some universities.
The university senate decided to introduce new courses in biotechnology.


A formal meeting or assembly where representatives discuss matters of common concern.
The international congress was attended by delegates from 50 countries.


A legislative chamber forming part of a bicameral legislature, especially in the U.S.
The Senate rejected the bill after a lengthy debate.


A national legislative body in some other countries.
The Indian National Congress played a pivotal role in India’s struggle for independence.


A formal assembly or council of citizens, especially in other countries.
The French Senate is located in the Luxembourg Palace in Paris.


Senate The upper house of the US Congress, to which two members are elected from each state by popular vote for a six-year term.


What is Congress?

Congress is the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government, composed of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

What is the Senate?

The Senate is one of two chambers in the U.S. Congress, with each state represented by two Senators.

How many members are in Congress?

Congress has 535 voting members: 435 Representatives and 100 Senators.

Is the Senate considered the upper house?

Yes, the Senate is traditionally referred to as the upper house of Congress.

What is the House of Representatives?

The House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress, with representation based on state population.

What role does Congress play in government spending?

Congress has the "power of the purse," meaning it is responsible for approving government spending and taxation.

What are the duties of Congress?

Congress is responsible for making laws, declaring war, regulating commerce, and overseeing the other branches of government.

Can anyone run for Congress?

Candidates for Congress must meet age, citizenship, and residency requirements outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

How many members are in the Senate?

The Senate consists of 100 members, two from each state.

How are Senators elected?

Senators are elected by the eligible voters within their respective states.

What is the term length for members of Congress?

Representatives serve two-year terms, while Senators serve six-year terms in Congress.

Who is responsible for making federal laws?

Congress, which includes both the Senate and the House of Representatives, is responsible for making federal laws.

How does a bill become law?

A bill becomes law after being passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.

How are members of Congress elected?

Members of Congress are elected by the eligible voting population of their respective districts or states.

What is bicameral legislature?

A bicameral legislature is a legislative body with two chambers, which in the U.S. are the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Can the Senate initiate revenue bills?

No, all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House of Representatives.

What is the Congressional Record?

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress.

Can the Senate declare war?

No, the power to declare war is vested in Congress as a whole, not in either chamber separately.

What unique powers does the Senate possess?

The Senate exclusively confirms presidential appointments, ratifies treaties, and conducts impeachment trials.

Who leads the Senate?

The Vice President of the U.S. serves as the President of the Senate.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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