Congratulations on your
election as a U. S.
Senator, a new member of the 114th Congress! As you will soon
discover, the work of the Senate takes place in political parties, in committees,
as well as in the Senate as a whole. You will operate, therefore,
not only as a Senator from the state of your choice during Senate meetings, but
you will also serve as a political party member and a member of committees.
Your goals in this simulation are as follows:
The Senate of the United States likes to consider itself a great deliberative body of statesmen. To that end, it operates under a set of written rules, i.e. parliamentary procedure, and unwritten rules of senatorial behavior. In your interactions with fellow senators you should follow these rules.
The Senate operates on the basis of seniority and majority rule. The majority party, the party with the most senators, runs the Senate. The president pro tempore, usually the most senior senator of the majority party, is largely ceremonial. The real power rests in the Majority Leader and Minority Leader who are elected by party caucus. The core of Congress is the committee system. Committee chairmanships are controlled by the majority party, and the majority party seats the most members on each committee, as well. Committee chairs are awarded on a seniority basis, to the senator with the longest continuous service on the committee. While the minority party elects its own leaders, it is the majority party's leaders, i.e., the Majority Party Leader and the committee chairpersons, who run the day-to-day business of the Senate and have final say on what happens and when it happens. This system of seniority won’t be simulated, however, since you are all brand new senators. Remember that in reality only one-third of the Senate is elected every two years. You will be electing your own party’s leaders for this simulation.
The key to senatorial effectiveness is collegiality. In order to be an effective senator, you must be trusted. Collegiality is expected, and all senators speak to each other in friendly respectful language. Debate in the Senate is formal. Opponents are always referred to in a formal way, for example, "my distinguished colleague the Senator from _____", or "my dear friend from the great state of _____", or "the gentleman or gentle lady from ______". There is a reason for this seemingly stilted and formal language: today's opponents may be tomorrow's allies. Senators do not get personal during debate; they discuss and debate issues, not personalities. So, be tough on the issues, but be respectful with each other.
The Senate operates slowly, under the influence of its written and unwritten rules. In part, these rules protect the minority from the majority, as well as to limit the business that the Senate can accomplish. For example, no voting is allowed until ALL debate is finished. Debate itself can be unlimited (filibuster), ended only by a petition of at least 60 senators (cloture). Obviously this can be used as a tactic delay a vote or to prevent it from occurring.
Your assignments for this simulation include:
You will be:
During the first stage of the simulation you must:
o Research your state, its strengths and its challenges (State Data Assignment)
o Decide what legislation you could propose which will help your state
o Design a mini-poster (8½ x 11) which you used in your most recent campaign
o Write and deliver your first speech to the Senate which will:
Identify some of the major needs of your state
Reveal your interest in your national issue
Be 2 - 3 minutes in duration
Save your speech in the shared Google Drive folder for our class.
Once you have been assigned your national issue and have done some research on this topic, you need to draft the bill. The template for bill summaries is on our Civics website.
Advocacy Speech (1)
You will deliver one speech on behalf of the legislation you have proposed to the committee to which your legislation has been assigned.
o Summarize the issue that your bill addresses
o Explain how your bill would work
o Convince other senators to vote for your bill
o 3-5 minutes in duration
o Save your speech in the shared Google Drive folder for our class..
o Refer to Government Speech Rubric for guidance
General Party Activities:
o Choose party leaders and committee chairpersons
o Discussions on which bills to support or not support
o Monitor support of colleagues in committees and full House
o Develop strategies to ensure passage of your own and your party’s bills
Specific committee work:
o Discuss bills on agenda
o Mark-up bills
o Vote on bills in committee
o Provide approved bills to Majority Leader
During the simulation, you will be required to take notes on your colleagues’ speeches. Using you notes, you will write a one-page news article about what transpired in the “U.S. Senate” during one of the days of the simulation. This time, you will write as a congressional reporter for one of the following newspapers:
Ø The Washington Post
Ø The Hill
Ø The Washington Times
Your article should be formatted like a real newspaper article and include at least two senators’ quotes. You may need to interview a senator for their reactions or to ensure accuracy of the quote.