Comparison between the House and the Senate


Comparison between the House and the Senate


  • All bills must go through all stages in both houses; neither can overturn the decisions of the other
  • Both houses have powerful standing committees that conduct separate hearings at the committee stage.
  • At the conference committee stage, members of both houses are represented.
  • Both houses must agree to the compromise reached at the conference committee
  • To override a presidential veto, a two-thirds majority in both houses is required.


  • Senators represent the entire state, not just part of the state
  • Senators serve 6-year terms, three times as long as House members.
  • As a Senator you are one of 100, rather than one of 435
  • Senators are therefore likely to chair a committee much sooner in their career than their House counterparts.
  • Senators often enjoy greater name recognition, not only in their state but often across the nation as a whole
  • House members are frequently seek election to the Senate; the reverse is almost unknown
  • Senators are more frequently thought of as likely presidential candidates. Recent examples are Barrack Obama (D), Hillary Clinton (D) and John McCain (R), all of whom contested their party's presidential nomination race in 2008
  • Senators are more frequently nominated as vice-presidential running-mates. Recent examples are senators Joe Lieberman (2000), John Edwards (2004) and Joe Biden (2008) - all Democrats.
  • Senators have exclusive powers, including the ratification of treaties and the confirmation of appointments, which are generally agreed to be more significant than the exclusive powers enjoyed by House members.

Overall comparison

The Senate appears to be the most powerful house in Congress despite shared functions with the House of Representatives. 


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