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Welcome to the Senate Simulation

Templates and Handouts

Fall Senate Assignments

Smaller States Find Outsize Clout Growing in Senate

State Data Sheet FAQs

Party Time



Introduction

Congratulations on your election as a U. S. Senator, a new member of the 113th 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:

  • Serve your COUNTRY
  • Serve your PARTY
  • Serve your CONSTITUENTS so you will be reelected
  • Achieve your LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

 

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:

  • Designing a campaign poster
  • Writing and delivering an introductory speech to the Senate
  • Drafting a bill with a national focus that concerns a state issue
  • Writing a “Dear Colleague” letter asking for support for your state-focused bill
  • Writing and delivering a speech to a committee about your bill
  • Writing and delivering a speech to the full Senate about your bill
  • Writing a reflection/evaluation of the Senate Simulation

 

GOOD LUCK, SENATOR!


Part 1: Welcome to the Senate

You will be: 

  • assigned a STATE to represent
  • designated as a MEMBER OF A POLITICAL PARTY
  • assigned a SPECIFIC NATIONAL ISSUE about which you will write a bill

 

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:

Introduce yourself

Identify some of the major needs of your state

Reveal your interest in your national issue

Be 2 - 3 minutes in duration

Bring three (3) typed, double-spaced copies of your speech, one “for the record” (the Congressional Record), one for the president pro tempore (me), and one for yourself.

 

 

Part 2: Legislative Objectives

 Bill (1)

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 Speeches (2)

You will deliver one speech on behalf of the legislation you have proposed to the committee to which your legislation has been assigned.  If your bill passes out of committee you will deliver a revised speech to the Senate.

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     Bring three (3) typed, double-spaced copies of your speech, one “for the record” (the Congressional Record), one for the president pro tempore (me), and one for yourself.

o  Refer to Government Speech Rubric for guidance

You will deliver one speech in opposition to a colleague’s bill to the full Senate.

  

 

Part 3: Group Work

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

 

Part IV:  Reporting the Senate Simulation

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.