1. Antonio Delgado, U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat from New York; 2. Mitt Romney, U.S. Senate, Republican from Utah; 3. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat from New York; 4. Sharice Davids, U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat from Kansas; 5. Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Senate, Republican from Tennessee;  6. Rick Scott, U.S. Senate, Republican from Florida; 7. Guy Reschenthaler, U.S. House of Representatives, Republican from Pennsylvania; 8. Ilhan Omar, U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat from Minnesota

Gluekit (Congress illustration); kanzilyou/Shutterstock.com (Capitol); Seth Wenig/AP Images (Delgado); George Frey/Getty Images (Romney); Mark Peterson/Redux (Ocasio-Cortez); Mark Humphrey/AP Images (Blackburn); Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images (Omar); John Raoux/AP Images (Scott); Whitney Curtis/Getty Images (Davids); Keith Srakocic/AP Images (Reschenthaler)

STANDARDS

Common Core: RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.3, RH.6-8.4, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.4, SL.6-8.1, SL.6-8.5, WHST.6-8.2, WHST.6-8.7

C3 (D2/6-8): Civ.1, Civ.2, Civ.6, Civ.10, His.1, His.5

NCSS: Civic ideals and practices; Power, authority, and governance


IN THE NEWS

Our New Congress:

Their Decisions Could Change Your Life

There are a record number of women and minorities in the new Congress. What does this mean for the nation—and teens like you?

The new Congress is now in session—and it’s the most diverse in history. Of the 535 combined members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, a record 126 of them are now women. (That’s the most ever, but it’s still less than a quarter of the total seats in Congress.) 

The number of African-American and Asian-American lawmakers has also increased. Other notable firsts include the election of the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress, as well as two Native American women and two Muslim women. There are also more openly gay Congresspeople than ever before. 

The newest legislators come with a variety of experiences too. Five worked in education and four were professional athletes. Read on to learn more about the new Congress—and why it matters.

The new Congress is now in session. It is the most diverse in history. There are 535 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate combined. A record 126 of them are now women. (That is the most ever. But it is still less than a quarter of the total seats in Congress.)

The number of African-American and Asian-American lawmakers has also increased. Other notable firsts include the election of the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress, as well as two Native American women and two Muslim women. There are also more openly gay Congresspeople than ever before.

The newest legislators come with a variety of experiences too. Five worked in education. Four were professional athletes. Read on to discover more about the new Congress. You will also learn why Congress matters.

Three Things You Should Know

1. Congress makes laws (but you knew that, right?)

Congress is the legislative, or lawmaking, branch of the federal government. It is responsible for writing, debating, and passing bills. (The two other branches are the executive branch, which includes the president, and the judicial branch, which includes the Supreme Court.) 

Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In November’s election, Democrats gained control of the House by winning the majority of its seats. Republicans maintained control of the Senate. 

The House has 435 members, called representatives. States with larger populations get more representatives. In the 100-member Senate, each state gets two senators.

Congress is the legislative, or lawmaking, branch of the federal government. It is responsible for writing, debating, and passing bills. (Another branch is the executive branch, which includes the president. The third is the judicial branch, which includes the Supreme Court.)

Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In November’s election, Democrats gained control of the House by winning the majority of its seats. Republicans maintained control of the Senate.

The House has 435 members. They are called representatives. States with larger populations get more representatives. In the 100-member Senate, each state gets two senators.

2. Tons of Americans voted!

This past fall, 50 percent of possible voters—116 million Americans—cast ballots. That’s the highest turnout rate for a midterm election in more than a century. Experts say pop star Taylor Swift probably played a role in the high voter turnout, especially among young people. In October, Swift urged her Instagram followers to register to vote. Less than 48 hours later, 170,000 people had registered on Vote.org. Most were ages 18 to 29. In comparison, 400,000 people registered on Vote.org during the entire month of October 2016.

This past fall, 50 percent of possible voters cast ballots. That is 116 million Americans. It was the highest turnout rate for a midterm election in more than a century. Experts say pop star Taylor Swift probably played a role in the high voter turnout, especially among young people. In October, Swift urged her Instagram followers to register to vote. Less than 48 hours later, 170,000 people had registered on Vote.org. Most were ages 18 to 29. In comparison, 400,000 people registered on Vote.org during the entire month of October 2016.

3. Yes, this will affect your life

Here’s how: With control of Congress now split between Democrats and Republicans, President Donald Trump will likely have to compromise with members of both political parties. These compromises may include pushing for tax cuts for the middle class, which could mean more money for your family. 

The high voter turnout among young people could have a huge effect too. It could encourage candidates to pay more attention to the issues young voters care about, including the environment. 

That means teens like you should continue to speak up—politicians will be listening!

Here is how: Control of Congress is now split between Democrats and Republicans. So President Donald Trump will likely have to compromise with members of both political parties. These compromises may include pushing for tax cuts for the middle class. That could mean more money for your family.

The high voter turnout among young people could have a huge effect too. It could encourage candidates to pay more attention to the issues young voters care about. Such issues include the environment.

That means teens like you should continue to speak up. Politicians will be listening!

That’s Sweet!

  • Congresspeople get a “swag bag” filled with high-tech devices and other goodies.
  • U.S. lawmakers gain lifetime membership to an exclusive gym.
  • Most U.S. senators and representatives earn an annual salary of $174,000.
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