Hawaii In Congress
Until 1959, Hawaii was under the constitutional control of Congress, which had the power to abolish the territorial legislature and local government at any time and place a resident commissioner in charge of the islands, as was done in the Philippines, or under the charge of a Navy commission, as had been done in Guam and Samoa. In 1959, during the second session of the 85th Congress, both houses overwhelmingly voted to admit Hawaii to the union, 106 years after King Kamehameha III first began discussions with the U.S. government about the annexation of the islands to the union as a new state. After having sought statehood for many decades, Hawaii was finally admitted to the union on Aug. 21, 1959.
The Constitution of the State of Hawaii, although drafted in 1950, became effective with statehood in 1959. The governor is elected every four years. The state has a bicameral legislature, which consists of a senate with 25 members and a house of representatives with 51 members. The State of Hawaii also elects two representatives and two senators to the U.S. Congress and has four electoral votes.
Hawaii’s Congressional Members
- Senior Seat – Senator Brian Schatz
- Junior Seat – Senator-elect Mazie Hirono
- District 1 – Representative Colleen Hanabusa
- Distrist 2 – Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard
The U.S. Congress
Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States provides for the establishment of a bicameral Congress composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The various powers of the Congress and the respective houses, together with their methods of election, are enumerated in the article. The Seventeenth Amendment, passed in 1916, instituted the direct popular election of Senators and removed the power of their election from the state legislatures as had originally been provided in Article 1.
Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States Congress sets the number of senators and representative from each state. The Senate is composed of 100 Members—two from each state, regardless of population or area—elected by the people in accordance with the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. The terms of one third of the Senators expire every two years. A Senator must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen of not less than nine years standing, and a resident of the state in which he or she is elected. The Senate is presided over by the Vice President of the United States, who has no part in its deliberations and may vote only in case of a tie; in his or her absence, his or her duties are assumed by a president pro tempore, elected by the Senate.
As constituted in the 106th Congress, the House of Representatives is composed of 435 Members elected every two years from among the 50 states, apportioned to their total populations. The permanent number of 435 was established by federal law following the Thirteenth Decennial Census in 1910, in accordance with Article I, Section 2, of the Constitution. Every state is entitled to at least one Representative. Representatives are chosen for two-year terms, and the entire body comes up for reelection every two years. A Representative must be 25 or older, a U.S. citizen of at least seven years standing, and a resident of the state in which he or she is elected. Although without a vote, one resident commissioner from Puerto Rico and one delegate each from the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands sit in the House. The presiding officer of the House, the speaker, is elected by the members of the House and may designate any member of the House to act in his or her absence.