Mrs. Berg's Mock Congress
How does a bill become a law? Mrs. Berg's American Government set out to answer this question. The classes took on the role of the Senate and the House of Representatives by creating bills, promoting them, and voting for or against their ideas during floor debate.
Step one in making a law is to write a bill. Students were divided into pairs and were assigned a bill number. They could make their bill do anything they wanted, such as creating new laws, repealing old ones, or adding amendments to existing laws.
Examples include bills to abolish Federal Income Tax, lowering the legal drinking age to 18, raising the minimum wage, and increasing benefits for U.S. veterans. Students had to research existing laws and find data to support their reasoning for the creation of the bill.
After completing their bills, promotional accounts were created where students made video content to gather support. Check out videos for the No Kill Animal Shelter, the Progressive Welfare Act, and the Revised Naturalization Act.
Bills were then divided among the classes to be debated. Two committees were formed in which separate bills were discussed. Committees were divided into sub-committees. These sub-committees consisted of groups of three to five people that would read a bill in detail and make a recommendation to their respective committee. Although they could not kill a bill, they would be able to introduce the bill and explain it.
Bills were then presented to their respective committees for a vote. Members of the sub-committee brought forward their reasoning for or against the bill's passage, and the whole committee voted on whether or not it should be brought to floor debate.
Floor debate was the final destination for the bill. Members of the class voiced their opinions on the presented bills and stood in support or opposition of their passage. It is at this point students asked the original author questions as to why they wrote the bill, and to determine any present problems. Bills were then voted on, needing a simple majority vote to pass.
The Progressive Welfare Act, sponsored by seniors Elijah Jones and Joanna Yurkin, sought to regulate welfare programs by mandating drug tests and job placements. This bill passed in the 2A American Government class.
There were two bills proposed to lower the drinking age to 18, sponsored by sophomores Carter Moore and Makia Smith, and seniors Kajsa Mertens and Harry Thomason respectively. Both of these bills passed in at least one of the classes.
Ultimately, this project was to inform American Government students on the process set in place by Congress when discussing bills. This is a simplified version of a complicated process in which students learned to voice their opinions, think critically about consequences, and solve real-world problems.