September 25, 2017

U.S. House of Representatives: Powers and Functions

The chief job of the House of Representatives—aka, “the House”– is to represent the interests of the people—those American citizens that vote and elect each representative. Compare this to the role of the Senate: to represent the interests of each state.

US House Of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives makes up one half of Congress. The other half is made up by the Senate. Together they are also known as the legislative branch of government—the part that introduces and handles laws and amendments to laws.

At any one time the House has a variable number of representatives. Unlike the Senate, which has 2 senators from each state, the number of representatives per state depends on its population, but all must have at least one. The more populous the state—like Florida or California—the greater the number of representatives.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution, defines the unique powers of both the Senate and the House. Despite the fact that there is some overlap in responsibility, there are key differences in powers.

House Powers

According to the Constitution the U.S. House of Representatives has the following key powers:

  • Power to set in motion impeachment proceedings (it is up to the Senate to bring those proceedings into a trial setting). For example, had Richard Nixon not resigned his position as president for his role in Watergate, the House would likely have voted (a majority) to impeach him, at which point any formal proceedings would have moved to the Senate.
  • Power to elect the President of the United States. This would only happen if electoral votes were tied. The Senate has the power to do the same with the office of Vice President. Of course it cannot choose randomly, but must select from candidates with the most electoral votes.
  • Power to introduce laws and legislation that specifically deal with revenue and taxes. Because revenue and taxes are issues closely related to their constituents or the people that voted for them, the House is granted the power to introduce these.
  • Power to introduce laws and legislation other than revenue-related, but this is also a power shared with the Senate.
  • Power to participate in Joint Committees alongside senate members, such as the Joint Committee on Taxation or Joint Economic Committee.

About the U.S. House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives is broken down into a number of parts and roles:

  • Of the Leadership Offices, by far the most familiar is that of the Speaker of the House. This role is given to a senior leader of the majority party, usually a key Democrat or Republican, who is voted in by his/her fellow party-members.
  • Committees are used to distribute advisory responsibilities among members and logically separate topics of business, such as agriculture, finance, transportation, and energy.
  • Special committees may be created to deal with current issues, for example, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
  • There are additional organizations and commissions.

For more information, including a list of current committees and a House Calendar, visit [ ]


  1. Ronald Lee Robinette says:

    I am proud of the tea party republican’s for standing up for the people of their district’s. I also believe that obamacare will eventually be changed because the American people will realize in time that it is the worst law that has been pushed through the two houses of government. I believe that the president has only one thing in mind and that is to be the first person to give the country universal health care which is another way to distribute wealth and to Get the poor people to vote for his party.

  2. iris jennings says:

    I would like to know if there could be a law change with the ssi disability you can’t have over $2,000 in the bank
    or that’s a over payment you will have to pay back if you don’t give them permission to go into your account
    you may be cut off also if you are married it takes from your check why? this your disability no one else it’s
    not right the law makes it rights for same sex to be married but people that have a disability is not allow over 2000 dollars this law is mess up people that sell drugs have thousand of dollars in the bank please help change these law respectfully iris jennings

  3. Ryan Fahey says:

    Why hasn’t anyone being held accounable for not providing information to the select committees on Bengazi and IRS? Can gov’t department ignore requests and subpeanas for information with out fear of penalties? Can people just ignore request to testify?

    It would seem in the real world there would be financial fines, jail time or loss of job.

  4. Justin Ray says:

    Is there truly only five powers of the house of representatives.

  5. Sonia says:

    This was a really helpful article.It held lots of interesting facts that I will need for a test.

  6. ian mcneish says:

    When it says the House has power to INTRODUCE laws and legislation. Does that also mean it can actually make a law. In other words, not just introduce a law.

    The word introduce is ambiguous in this context.

    ian mcneish

  7. Madysom says:

    I would really like to know some job requirements for The House of Represenative if they are running and get the job?
    An I would also like to know what benifits they can get if they run and win?
    This is a very helpfully article but i would love to see someone to understand ,y questions that i have been holding in my head for the past year when i have been watching the elections!
    Thank you

  8. julio vega says:

    I just want to say I think this current republican led house and senate is the most inept congress that I have ever seen in my whole 63 years of living. They care about the big money and could careless about the average voter. They are more dishonest with an exception of a few. Michigan House Representative Justin Amash is Honorable and cares about his district voters. he has not sold out to big business