What is Washington, D.C.?
Washington, D.C., is the capital city of the United States. “Washington” is named for George Washington, the first President of the United States. “D.C.” stands for the “District of Columbia,” after the famous explorer Christopher Columbus. Washington, D.C., is located on the east coast and is surrounded by Virginia and Maryland on the Potomac River. It is the country’s first planned city and was designed by Pierre L’Enfant. For more fun facts about Washington, D.C., click here.

What is Capitol Hill?
Capitol Hill is an area in Washington, D.C., where the United States Capitol, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate buildings are located. The U.S. Senators and Representatives have met in the Capitol building since 1800. To learn more about the United States Capitol building, click here. Or, click here to take a virtual tour of the building.

How do you become a United States Senator?
Senators are elected by the people who live in their state. Usually, there are at least two people, or “candidates,” who are competing against each other for the job. The candidate who gets the most votes in the election becomes the Senator. To learn more about how Senators are elected, click here.

How many United States Senators are there?
There are exactly 100 Senators in Congress. Each of the 50 states has two Senators. For more information about the structure of the United States Senate, click here.

Where do Senators work?
Each Senator has an office in Washington, D.C., and offices in his or her home state. In Washington, D.C., the Senators’ offices are located in the Russell Building, the Dirksen Building, or the Hart Building. Senator Shelby has an office in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington and five offices in Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile. For photos and more information about the Russell Senate Building, click here.

When the Senate is in session, or “voting,” Senator Shelby spends weekdays in Washington and goes home to Alabama on the weekends. Click here to follow the Senate by tracking legislation and votes. When the Senate is in recess, or “not voting,” Senator Shelby typically travels across the state meeting with Alabama constituents and leaders. Senator Shelby has visited all 67 counties in Alabama every year since he took office in 1987.

What does a Senator do?
Senators belong to the legislative branch of the government, which is the part of the government that makes laws. A senator’s job is to represent the people living in his or her state in the United States Senate. Part of this job is to write and vote on new laws called “bills.” In order to become a law, a bill must be voted on and passed by both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and signed by the President of the United States. To learn more about the legislative branch, click here.

Another important part of a Senator’s job is to help people in their state who have a problem with the federal government. For example, if you are having a problem getting your passport to take a vacation outside of the United States, Senator Shelby’s office can work to help you get it in time for your trip.

What is the difference between a U.S. senator and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives?
The U.S. Congress is made up of two “chambers,” the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are 100 members in the Senate. Each state elects two senators no matter the size or population of the state. In the House of Representatives there are 435 members. States are divided into districts based on their population. For every 693,000 people, a state will have one district. Alabama has seven districts, and therefore seven members of the House of Representatives.

A senator serves a six year term and they represent everyone in his or her state. A member of the House of Representatives serves a two year term and represents only the people who live in his or her district.

For more information about the U.S. Congress, click here.

How does a bill become a law?
A bill becomes a law after it is passed by both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and the President signs it. To learn more about how a bill becomes a law, click here.

For fun facts about Alabama and state-related activity pages, click here.

For information about how to write a letter to Senator Shelby, click here.