Senate and House Sites

Senate and House Sites

A Chapter by Debbie Barry

An essay about the official Internet sites of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Written for HIS 303: The American Constitution.


Senate and House Sites



I first visited the opening page of the U.S. Senate Web site and the opening page of the U.S. House of Representatives Web site.  Even those opening pages show some differences.  The Senate site discusses the way voting occurs in the Senate, as well as a bit of Senate history, on the first page, and the page is decorated with a piece of a classical painting.  The page is inviting, accented in royal blue and red, and it appears to favor educating visitors.  In addition, the bar of navigation links is easy to find, and it includes a link for "Art & History" (U.S. Senate, n.d., header).

The first page of the House Web site, in contrast to the Senate site, is stark and utilitarian, accented in dark grey.  It contains simple, vertical lists of links, with minimal pictorial buttons and with no historical information.  Featured on the page are a search tool for locating one's Representative, as well as a section for information about the H1N1 flu.  Where the Senate site appears to be intended for the upper class visitor, the House site appears to be designed for the common man, echoing the historical makeup of the two houses of Congress, in which the senate has often been seen as the house of the aristocrats and the House has often been seen as the house of the common people.

Seeking to find content differences or similarities between the two sites, as well as the initial aesthetic differences, I then went to the schedule of activities on each site.  The Senate site lists the schedule of committee meetings and hearings for March, 2010.  The Senate schedule for March includes many entries for appropriations and finance issues, several entries for judiciary issues, several entries for armed forces and veterans' affairs issues, energy and natural resources issues, and a scattering of other topics.  Reading beyond the titles of the issues, many of the meetings and hearings that are not overtly financial in nature also deal with budget concerns.

In contrast with the senate's schedule of upcoming business, the House site provides a recap of the previous day's business, reading very much like the minutes of a meeting, listed in reverse chronological order.  Similar to business in the Senate, the House activities for February 26, 2010, includes several matters involving appropriations and budgets.  In the minutiae of the House day, I was struck by an entry reading: "The Clerk was authorized to correct section numbers, punctuation, and cross references, and to make other necessary technical and conforming corrections ... [a]greed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required)" (Legislative Activities, n.d., para. 6).  I can see that this is important to the accurate record keeping of the House, but the time stamps indicate that authorizing technical corrections to a single bill took ten minutes, whereas a matter involving appropriations for intelligence activities took only nine minutes.

With both the entry pages of the Web sites for the Senate and the House, and the activities pages of the sites, I have the impression that the Senate puts more effort into being inviting and accessible to the people than the House does.  It seems that the difference goes back to the impression, which I mentioned earlier, that the Senate is more associated with a sort of American aristocracy, while the House is more associated with the common, working class in America.



Daily Didest Committee Meetings/Hearings Schedule.  (n.d.).  Retrieved March 1, 2010, from the      U.S. Senate Web site at           _hearings.htm

Legislative Activities.  (n.d.).  Retrieved March 1, 2010, from the U.S. House of        Representatives      Web site at

United States House of Representatives, 111th Congress, 2nd Session.  (n.d.).  Retrieved March        1, 2010, from the U.S. House of Representatives Web site at

United States Senate.  (n.d.).  Retrieved March 1, 2010, from the U.S. Senate web site at

© 2017 Debbie Barry

Author's Note

Debbie Barry
Initial reactions and constructive criticism welcome.

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Added on November 10, 2017
Last Updated on November 10, 2017
Tags: essay, American government, senate, house of representatives, Internet, web site

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Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI

I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..