The 1951 Home Rule Charter established Council as the legislative arm of Philadelphia municipal government, consisting of seventeen members. Ten Councilmembers are elected by district and seven from the City-at-large. Each is elected for a term of four years with no limitations as to the number of terms that may be served. Under the rules of Council, regular public sessions of Council are held weekly, usually on Thursday morning at 10:00 AM., in Room 400, City Hall.

Every proposed ordinance is in the form of a bill introduced by a Councilmember. Before a bill can be enacted by Council, it must be referred by the President of Council to an appropriate standing committee of Council, considered at a public hearing and public meeting, reported out by the committee, printed as reported by the committee, distributed to the members of Council, and made available to the public. Passage of a bill requires the favorable vote of a majority of all members of Council. A bill becomes law upon the approval of the Mayor. If the Mayor vetoes a bill, Council may override the veto by a two-thirds vote.

The functions of City Council influence a wide range of public affairs in Philadelphia and directly impact the quality of life for its citizenry.