So you think you know Congress? Take our quiz.

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With job approval ratings in single digits, Congress is at record lows in public opinion. Is it because the nation's lawmakers are truly performing badly? Or is the institution – viewed by Founding Fathers as the preeminent branch – maligned and misunderstood? See how much you know about the Congress. Take our quiz! [Updated Jan. 26, 2015]

Why is the House of Representatives called 'the People's House?'

The House was founded at the 1787 Constitutional Convention; the Senate was established by amendment in 1808.

 

The House was originally elected by the people. The Senate was not.

 

House members pay for their own parking.

 

Members of the House are seen as less senior than senators, therefore closer to the people.

 

Who described the US Senate as a 'saucer' to cool hot tea?

James Madison

 

George Washington

 

Barack Obama

 

Lyndon B. Johnson

 

When did Congress first recognize that part of its job is to investigate the executive branch?

Watergate scandal of 1973

 

Teapot Dome scandal of 1922

 

Stock market crash of 1929

 

St. Clair Expedition of 1791

 

Why was Sen. Charles Sumner (R) severely beaten on the floor of the Senate?

He was caught texting during a vote.

 

He spoke against admitting Kansas to the Union as a slave state.

 

He delivered what was seen to be a pro-British speech during the War of 1812.

 

He called for the impeachment of President Lincoln over his handling of the Civil War.

 

What's the annual salary of House member?

$30,000

 

$96,600

 

$174,000

 

$225,000

 

What is the annual salary for a US senator?

$174,000

 

$193,400

 

$223,500

 

$400,000

 

New ethics rules require members and congressional staff to refuse gifts from lobbyists once viewed as routine on Capitol Hill. Three of the items below are now forbidden. Which one is not?

Meals valued at more than $50.

 

Food at a lobbyist reception, unless it can be eaten standing up without a knife or fork.

 

Travel financed in any part by a lobbyist, travel accompanied by a lobbyist, or travel financed by a firm that has hired a lobbyist.

 

Ads supporting a lawmaker's campaign or defaming a challenger financed (without limit) by corporations or unions.

 

Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned over criminal charges, but he has a bust prominently placed just off the Senate floor. Why?

He once referred to the Washington press corps as "nattering nabobs of negativism," and the Senate appreciates an elegant turn of phrase.

 

He had previously served as Senate majority leader.

 

He was honored as the first Greek-American to become vice president.

 

As vice president, Agnew was also president of the Senate.

 

If the Senate is divided 50-50, which party gets to hold control?

The party that led the previous Senate continues in the majority.

 

The party of the president.

 

The minority party in the previous Congress automatically becomes the majority.

 

The House of Representatives decides.

 

How many seats do Democrats need to win a majority in the Senate?

at least four seats

 

at least six seats

 

at least eight seats

 

at least nine seats

 

When was the first Senate filibuster?

Day 1 of the US Senate, 1789

 

Vote on the Louisiana purchase, 1803

 

Vote to charter second Bank of the United States, 1841

 

Nomination of Robert Bork to Supreme Court, 1987

 

Who holds the record for the longest Senate filibuster?

Strom Thurmond

 

Harry Reid

 

Bernie Sanders

 

Huey Long

 

When did the Senate first change its rules to limit the right of senators to speak without limit?

Senate banking legislation, 1841

 

Woodrow Wilson's plan to arm merchant ships, 1917

 

Launch of C-SPAN, 1979

 

Filibuster of Bush-era judicial nominations, 2005

 

The objection of a single senator can significantly delay Senate business, including which of the following measures?

Hold up a presidential nomination.

 

Block a request to dispense with reading of the text of an amendment before a vote.

 

Block a request to dispense with the reading of the entire bill before a vote.

 

All of the above.

 

The vice president is first in the line of presidential succession, then Speaker of the House. Who's next?

Senate majority leader

 

Secretary of State

 

Presidential spouse

 

Senate president pro tempore

 

What congressional job is often compared to "herding cats"?

Speaker of the House

 

Senate majority leader

 

Senate parliamentarian

 

Chairman of the Senate congeniality caucus

 

The Senate majority leader frequently changes his vote and votes against his own party. Why?

It is an embarrassment for the Senate majority leader to vote for a losing measure.

 

If a majority leader winds up too often on the losing side of a vote, he forfeits claim to be leader of the majority.

 

It's another way to confuse journalists.

 

It's a nod to Senate procedure. The Senate majority leader can't bring a matter back to the floor for consideration unless he previously opposed it.

 

How many voting members are there in the House of Representatives?

100

 

435

 

650

 

744

 

Eleanor Holmes Norton is a delegate to the US House of Representatives, representing the District of Columbia. She has an office, a staff, a parking place, and gym privileges. What can't she do in her official capacity that other House members can?

Speak and offer amendments on the floor.

 

Vote on final passage of legislation.

 

Vote in committee.

 

Take oath to support and defend the Constitution.

 

What are the three branches of government?

Some congressional leaders have taken to referring to the House and Senate as two separate branches of government, prompting the question: What are the three branches of government?

Senate, House, and White House

 

Congress, White House, and Jon Stewart

 

Legislative, executive, and judicial

 

Congress, White House, and press

 

The bronze statue of freedom that tops the dome of the US Capitol is crowned with feathers. What's that about?

A reference to the eagle's status as national bird

 

A tribute to native Americans

 

A reference to headgear worn by Roman senators

 

An alternative to the cap of a freed slave originally planned by the artist