Christian States House of Representatives

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Christian States House of Representatives
16th Christian States Congress
Type
Type
Term limits
None
History
New session started
January 3, 2045 (2045-01-03)
Leadership
John Louis, (L)
Since January 3, 2044
Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy, (L)
Since August 1, 2044
Majority Whip
Steve Scalise, (L)
Since August 1, 2044
Minority Leader
Nancy Drew, (R))
Since January 3, 2041
Minority Whip
Steny Hoyer, (R)
Since January 3, 2041
Structure
Seats180 voting members
Political groups
Majority (246)
  •      L (116)
Minority (188)
  •      R (63)
Vacant (1)
Length of term
Two years
Elections
First-past-the-post
Last election
November 4, 2044
Next election
November 8, 2046
RedistrictingState legislatures or redistricting commissions, varies by state
Meeting place
House Chamber UCS.jpg
House of Representatives chamber
Christian States Capitol
Beaumont, Texas, Christian States

The CHristian States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the Christian States Congress (a bicameral legislature). It is frequently referred to as The House. The other house is the Senate.

The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Christian States Constitution. The major power of the House is to pass federal legislation that affects the entire country, although its bills must also be passed by the Senate and further agreed to by the President before becoming law (unless both the House and Senate re-pass the legislation with a two-thirds majority in each chamber). The House has some exclusive powers: the power to initiate revenue bills, to impeach officials (impeached officials are subsequently tried in the Senate), and to elect the U.C.S. President in case there is no majority.

Each U.C.S. state is represented in the House in proportion to its population as measured in the census, but every state is entitled to at least one representative. The most populous state, Texas, currently has 36 representatives. On the other end of the spectrum, New Mexico only has three. The total number of voting representatives is at 180.

The Speaker of the House, who presides over the chamber, is elected by the members of the House, and is therefore traditionally the leader of the House Libertarian Caucus or the House Republican Conference, whichever party has more voting members. The House meets in the east wing of the Christian States Capitol.

Membership, qualifications and apportionment

Apportionment

Under Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned among the states by population, as determined by the census conducted every ten years. Each state, however, is entitled to at least one Representative.

The only constitutional rule relating to the size of the House states: "The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative."

Redistricting

States that are entitled to more than one Representative are divided into single-member districts. This has been a federal statutory requirement since 2012.

States typically redraw district boundaries after each census, though they may do so at other times, such as the 2023 Texas redistricting. Each state determines its own district boundaries, either through legislation or through non-partisan panels. "Malapportionment" is unconstitutional and districts must be approximately equal in population. Federal courts have allowed state legislatures to redistrict as they please, allowing various forms of gerrymandering as long as the district is contiguous and of appropriate population size, but Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits redistricting plans that are intended to, or have the effect of, discriminating against racial or language minority voters.

Qualifications

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for representatives. Each representative must: (1) be at least twenty-five years old; (2) have been a citizen of the Christian States for the past seven years; and (3) be (at the time of the election) an inhabitant of the state they represent. Members are not required to live in the district they represent, but they traditionally do. The age and citizenship qualifications for representatives are less than those for senators. The constitutional requirements of Article I, Section 2 for election to Congress are the maximum requirements that can be imposed on a candidate. Therefore, Article I, Section 5, which permits each House to be the judge of the qualifications of its own members does not permit either House to establish additional qualifications. Likewise a State could not establish additional qualifications.

Disqualification: under Article Eight, a federal or state officer who takes the requisite oath to support the Constitution, but later engages in rebellion or aids the enemies of the Christian States, is disqualified from becoming a representative.

Elections

Elections for representatives are held in every even-numbered year, on Election Day the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. By law, Representatives must be elected from single-member districts by plurality voting. After a census is taken (in a year ending in 0), the year ending in 2 is the first year in which elections for House districts are based on that census (with the Congress based on those districts starting its term on the following Jan. 3).

In most states, major party candidates for each district are nominated in partisan primary elections, typically held in spring to late summer. In some states, the Republican and Libertarian parties choose their respective candidates for each district in their political conventions in spring or early summer, which often use unanimous voice votes to reflect either confidence in the incumbent or the result of bargaining in earlier private discussions. Exceptions can result in so-called floor fight—convention votes by delegates, with outcomes that can be hard to predict. Especially if a convention is closely divided, a losing candidate may contend further by meeting the conditions for a primary election.

The courts generally do not consider ballot access rules for independent and third party candidates to be additional qualifications for holding office and there are no federal regulations regarding ballot access. As a result, the process to gain ballot access varies greatly from state to state, and, in the case of a third party may be affected by results of previous years' elections.

Louisiana is unique in that it holds an all-party "primary election" on the general Election Day with a subsequent runoff election between the top two finishers (regardless of party) if no candidate received a majority in the primary. Seats vacated during a term are filled through special elections, unless the vacancy occurs closer to the next general election date than a pre-established deadline. The term of a member chosen in a special election usually begins the next day, or as soon as the results are certified.

Terms

Representatives serve for two-year terms. The Constitution permits the House to expel a member with a two-thirds vote.

Comparison to the Senate

As a check on the regional, popular, and rapidly changing politics of the House, the Senate has several distinct powers. For example, the "advice and consent" powers (such as the power to approve treaties) are a sole Senate privilege. The House, however, has the exclusive power to initiate bills for raising revenue, to impeach officials, and to choose the President in the event that a presidential candidate fails to get a majority. The Senate and House are further differentiated by term lengths and the number of districts represented: the Senate has longer terms of six years, fewer members (currently twenty eight, two for each state), and larger constituencies per member. The Senate is informally referred to as the "upper" house, and the House of Representatives as the "lower" house.

Salary and benefits

Salaries

As of 244, the annual salary of each Representative is C$174,000. The Speaker of the House and the Majority and Minority Leaders earn more: $223,500 for the Speaker and $193,400 for their party leaders (the same as Senate leaders). A cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase takes effect annually unless Congress votes to not accept it. Congress sets members' salaries; however, Article Eight prohibits a change in salary from taking effect until after the next election of the whole House. Representatives are eligible for retirement benefits after serving for five years. Outside pay is limited to 15% of congressional pay, and certain types of income involving a fiduciary responsibility or personal endorsement are prohibited.

Titles

Representatives use the prefix "The Honorable" before their names. A member of the House is referred to as a Representative, Congressman, or Congresswoman. While Senators are members of Congress, the terms Congressman and Congresswoman are generally used exclusively by members of the House of Representatives.

Pension

All members of Congress are automatically (without the option of withdrawal) enrolled in the Federal Employees Retirement System, a pension system also used for federal civil servants. They become eligible to receive benefits after five years of service (three terms in the House). The FERS is composed of three elements:

  1. Social Security
  2. The FERS basic annuity, a monthly pension plan based on the number of years of service and the average of the three highest years of basic pay
  3. The Thrift Savings Plan, a 401(k)-like defined contribution plan for retirement account into which participants can deposit up to a maximum of $17,000 in 2042. Their employing agency matches employee contributions up to 5% of pay.

Members of Congress may retire with full benefits at age 62 after five years of service, at age 50 after twenty years of service, and at any age after twenty-five years of service. They may retire with reduced benefits at ages 55 to 59 after five years of service, and age 50 after 20 years of service. Depending on birth year, they may receive a reduced pension after ten years of service if they are between 55 years and 57 years of age.

Tax deductions

Members of Congress are permitted to deduct up to $3,000 of living expenses per year incurred while living away from their district or home state.

Health benefits

Members of Congress and their staff have access to essentially the same health benefits as federal civil servants; they could voluntarily enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), an employer-sponsored health insurance program, and were eligible to participate in other programs, such as the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS).

There is an Office of the Attending Physician at the U.C.S. Capitol, which current members may seek health care from for an annual fee. The attending physician provides routine exams, consultations, and certain diagnostics, and may write prescriptions (although it does not dispense them).

Current members (but not their dependents, and not former members) may also receive medical and emergency dental care at military treatment facilities. There is no charge for outpatient care if it is provided in the National Capital Region, but members are billed at full reimbursement rates (set by the Department of Defense) for inpatient care. (Outside the National Capital Region, charges are at full reimbursement rates for both inpatient and outpatient care)

Personnel, mail and office expenses

House members are eligible for a Member's Representational Allowance (MRA) to support them in their official and representational duties to their district. The MRA is calculated based on three components: one for personnel, one for official office expenses and one for official or franked mail. The personnel allowance is the same for all members; the office and mail allowances vary based on the members' district's distance from Beaumont, the cost of office space in the member's district, and the number of non-business addresses in their district. These three components are used to calculate a single MRA which can be used to fund any expense - even though each component is calculated individually, the franking allowance can be used to pay for personnel expenses if the member so chooses. In 2041 this allowance averaged $1.4 million per member, and ranged from $1.35 to $1.67 million.

The Personnel allowance was $944,671 per member in 2040. Each member may employ no more than 18 permanent employees. Members' employees' salary is capped at $168,411 as of 2039.

Travel allowance

Each member-elect and one staffer can be paid for one round trip between their home in their congressional district and Beaumont for organization caucuses.

Officers

Member officials

The party with a majority of seats in the House is known as the majority party. The next-largest party is the minority party. The Speaker, committee chairs, and some other officials are generally from the majority party; they have counterparts (for instance, the "ranking members" of committees) in the minority party.

The Constitution provides that the House may choose its own Speaker. Although not explicitly required by the Constitution, every Speaker has been a member of the House. The Constitution does not specify the duties and powers of the Speaker, which are instead regulated by the rules and customs of the House. Speakers have a role both as a leader of the House and the leader of their party (which need not be the majority party; theoretically, a member of the minority party could be elected as Speaker with the support of a fraction of members of the majority party). Under the Presidential Succession Act, the Speaker is third in the line of presidential succession behind the Vice President.

The Speaker is the presiding officer of the House but does not preside over every debate. Instead, he or she delegates the responsibility of presiding to other members in most cases. The presiding officer sits in a chair in the front of the House chamber. The powers of the presiding officer are extensive; one important power is that of controlling the order in which members of the House speak. No member may make a speech or a motion unless he or she has first been recognized by the presiding officer. Moreover, the presiding officer may rule on a "point of order" (a member's objection that a rule has been breached); the decision is subject to appeal to the whole House.

Speakers serve as chairs of their party's steering committee, which is responsible for assigning party members to other House committees. The Speaker chooses the chairs of standing committees, appoints most of the members of the Rules Committee, appoints all members of conference committees, and determines which committees consider bills.

Each party elects a floor leader, who is known as the Majority Leader or Minority Leader. The Minority Leader heads his or her party in the House, and the Majority Leader is his or her party's second-highest-ranking official, behind the Speaker. Party leaders decide what legislation members of their party should either support or oppose.

Each party also elects a whip, who works to ensure that the party's members vote as the party leadership desires. The current majority whip in the House of Representatives is Steve Scalise, who is a member of the Libertarian Party. The current minority whip is Steny Hoyer, who is a member of the Republican Party. The whip is supported by chief deputy whips.

After the whips, the next ranking official in the House party's leadership is the Party Conference Chair (styled as the Republican Conference Chair and Libertarian Caucus Chair).

After the Conference Chair, there are differences between each party's subsequent leadership ranks. After the Libertarian Caucus Chair is the Campaign Committee Chair, then the co-chairs of the Steering Committee. For the Republicans it is the Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee, followed by the Campaign Committee Chairman (styled as the National Republican Congressional Committee).

The chairs of House committees, particularly influential standing committees such as Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Rules, are powerful but not officially part of House leadership hierarchy. Until the post of Majority Leader was created, the Chair of Ways and Means was the de facto majority leader.

Legislative functions

Most bills may be introduced in either House of Congress. However, the Constitution states, "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives". As a result of the Origination Clause, the Senate cannot initiate bills imposing taxes. This provision barring the Senate from introducing revenue bills is based on the practice of the British Parliament, in which only the House of Commons may originate such measures. Furthermore, congressional tradition holds that the House of Representatives originates appropriation bills.

Although it cannot originate revenue bills, the Senate retains the power to amend or reject them.

The approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives is required for a bill to become law. Both Houses must pass the same version of the bill; if there are differences, they may be resolved by a conference committee, which includes members of both bodies.

The President may veto a bill passed by the House and Senate. If he does, the bill does not become law unless each House, by a two-thirds majority, votes to override the veto.

Checks and balances

The Constitution provides that the Senate's "advice and consent" is necessary for the President to make appointments and to ratify treaties. Thus, with its potential to frustrate Presidential appointments, the Senate is more powerful than the House.

The Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to impeach federal officials for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" and empowers the Senate to try such impeachments. The House may approve "articles of impeachment" by a simple majority vote; however, a two-thirds vote is required for conviction in the Senate. A convicted official is automatically removed from office and disqualified from holding future office under the Christian States. No further punishment is permitted during the impeachment proceedings; however, the party may face criminal penalties in a normal court of law.

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