First up, since I know this is an area where Congress novices get easily confused, is a glossary of common terms. Feel free to post additions or suggested improvements and I'll edit them in.Bill
- One of two types of legislation considered in Congress (Resolution is the other). A bill is a proposed law and it is the primary way to make something a crime (or no longer a crime), raise or spend money, create or abolish government agencies, and do other actions authorized by Art. I Sec. 8 of the Constitution. Bills do not have "Whereas" clauses and must always begin with the phrase "Be it enacted
- There are three types of resolution, Simple, Concurrent, and Joint.Simple Resolution
- A simple resolution is passed in only one chamber of Congress and has no force of law. Simple resolutions are commonly used to state support or disapproval of an issue (the opinion or "sense" of the House or Senate), and (in the Senate alone) to approve treaties and cabinet appointments. Simple resolutions commonly begin with "Whereas" clauses which state the reasons behind the resolution (e.g. "Whereas, Mickey Mouse's large ears and cartoonishly thin arms spook millions of children, and...") and then are introduced with the phrase "be it resolved
" (e.g. "Be it Resolved by the <chamber> that: Disney should cease using Mickey Mouse as an icon.").Concurrent Resolution
- Functionally the same as a simple resolution, but passed by both houses (showing the sense or opinion of the whole Congress). In Student Congress (since you only model one chamber), there is no difference at all between a simple resolution and a concurrent resolution. Thus, there's really no reason to make a resolution concurrent, keep it simple...Joint Resolutions
- Joint Resolutions are passed by both houses of Congress and are subject to signature or veto by the President. JR's can be used interchangeably with bills and do have the force of law, but also usually begin with "Whereas" clauses and are always introduced with "Be it resolved". There is also one special type of JR used to propose constitutional amendments (bills cannot be used to propose amendments). JR's which propose amendments must pass each house with a 2/3 majority and are not sent to the president for signature or veto.
Presiding Officer (PO)
- The PO (a.k.a. "the chair") is the leader of the chamber and directs the business of that chamber. In the House that person is the Speaker of the House (addressed as "Mister/Madam Speaker"), and in the Senate that person is the Vice President of the United States (addressed as "Mister/Madam President" since that person is 'President of the Senate'). The PO gavels the chamber to order and is the conduit through which all business and speeches flow (hence, all speeches and questions should be directed to "Mister/Madam Speaker/President"). Even when asking questions of another member of the chamber, you should refer to that member in the third person through the PO (e.g. "Mister President, would Senater Roberts agree that ..." when asking a question of Senator Roberts). The PO calls on members for speeches, motions, and questions and is the official timekeeper (although that task may be delegated to the parliamentarian or a judge). The PO is the official counter of votes in the chamber and has no vote themselves unless there is a tie. The PO also rules on motions and points, although their rulings can be appealed to the whole body, which will vote to sustain or overrule the PO's ruling.Parliamentarian
- This person is a staffer supplied by the tournament (not a competitor) who assists the PO in their duties. The parliamentarian begins the Congress session by conducting a vote for the first PO and also ends the session and conducts the vote for best PO after the last PO has adjourned the chamber. During the session, the Parliamentarian will often help the PO count votes and is officially designated as an assistant to the PO who is knowledgeable on the rules of parliamentary procedure. If the PO does not know a rule (or is confused) the Parliamentarian is there to remind them.Motion
- The primary means of advancing business in the chamber is the motion (begun with the phrase "I move..."). A "motion to convene" starts business in the chamber, a "motion to set the docket" enters the phase of determining the order of bills and resolutions in that day's session. Moving "the previous question" closes debate on an item and advances to voting it up or down. A "motion to reconsider" asks the chamber to reconduct the last vote. A "motion to recess" will take the chamber into a break, while a "motion to adjourn" closes the session entirely. Motions must be stated by a member (E.g. "I move the previous question." or "I move to recess for five minutes.") and must be seconded by any other member. Most of the motions you will use in student congress require a simple majority of the chamber to adopt, except presvious question, which requires a two-thirds majority to adopt. The PO, at their discretion, can rule motions "out of order" or "dilatory" without conducting a vote, however, that ruling can be appealed by a "motion to appeal the ruling of the chair".
Edited by Just Socks, 05 February 2009 - 03:41 PM.