The Great Compromise created the bicameral legislature of the United States Congress of which the House of Representatives is one of the two houses. Each state is represented in the House of Representatives by a number of representatives proportional to the size of the state. All bills concerning finance or taxation must begin in the House of Representives; however, it is considered to be subordinate to the Senate.

Smilin Zack is incorrect: one is the minimum number of representatives per state.

While the House of Representatives is the "lower house" of the bicameral legislative branch of the United States government, it has certain special powers assigned to it based on the presumption of the framers of the United States Constitution that it would be the body nearest to the will of the people: raising money, spending money, impeachment of the president, and selection of the president in the event of a failure of the electoral college to do so.

In addition, the House has equal power to the United States Senate in many matters of the approval of legislation and overriding of presidential veto.

Representatives are elected to two-year terms from the several states...each state elects a minimum of two representatives, and the District of Columbia elects one. The remaining 334 are apportioned to the states according to their populations (ascertained by way of the official census taken every ten years).

The House transacts its legislative business through several standing committees: Agriculture, Appropriations, Armed Services, Banking and Financial Services, Budget, Commerce, Education and the Workforce, Government Reform, House Administration, International Relations, Judiciary, Resources, Rules, Science, Small Business, Standards of Official Conduct, Transportation and Infrastructure, Veterans Affairs, Ways and Means, Joint Economic Committee, Printing and Taxation. A number of ad hoc committees exists from time to time, and these major committees are further decomposed into subcommittees. Committee chairpersons are selected strictly on the basis of party control and seniority which can lead to weird results.


In Japan, the Shûgiin or "House of Representatives" is the lower house of the bicameral Diet. It convenes in the Diet Building in Nagata-cho, Tokyo.

The first House of Representatives convened in 1890. At that time, it was roughly analogous to the House of Commons in the parliament of the United Kingdom: representation was by general election (although there was no universal suffrage back then), and the upper house, the House of Peers, was for the nobility. In 1946, the Diet was altered to more closely resemble the United States Congress, and the House of Representatives took on a role closer to that of its sister organ in Washington, D.C.

The house has 480 representatives. 300 are elected directly by single-seat districts. The remaining 180 are chosen by proportional representation, and this is where it gets tricky. Japan is divided into 11 electoral blocs that overlay its 300 electoral districts, and each of these blocs returns a certain number of members (6-30) based on its size. So, when a Japanese citizen votes, they choose a candidate for their district and a party for their bloc. This "split voting" system was implemented in 1996.

The minimum age to be a representative is 25: terms are for four years.

Procedurally speaking, Japan's House of Representatives is basically an American House of Representatives thrown into a parliamentary setting. It has a similar committee system, and its relationship with the House of Councillors is almost identical to the American House's relationship with the Senate. However, Japan's House of Representatives is still like Commons in that it elects, and can be dissolved by, the prime minister.

The House chamber is 23 meters long, 32 meters wide, and 13 meters high. The Speaker of the House and Secretary General sit behind a rostrum at the front of the room, flanked by the ministers of state. The remaining seats are organized in a semicircle around the rostrum, and individual parties are seated in blocs.

The Liberal Democratic Party is, and has been for some time, the dominant party in the house, currently holding 241 of its 480 seats. The Democratic Party of Japan holds 125, the New Komeito 31, the Liberal Party 22, and the Japan Communist Party 20. 34 of the house's members are women.

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