Letter to a Member of Congress Choose a public policy issue from the attached document titled, “Public Policy Issues” (or choose your own), research that issue with respect to an appropriate member of Congress to write a letter (several members of Congress would be appropriate to contact). Your primary goal is to use that issue as a vehicle to demonstrate knowledge of how Congress is structured by writing a letter to a member of Congress. Your letter should reflect: 1) Knowledge of basic facts about the member of Congress, including, but not limited to: a. The state and/or congressional district the member is from b. The political party the member belongs to c. How long the member has held their current seat 2) Thoughtful consideration as to why you are writing to this particular member (it should be clear to the member of Congress that you have done your homework! Make it clear you are writing to them specifically and not just any member of Congress). a. Think about what district and/or state that member represents (and, subsequently, whether or not you are a constituent) b. The committee(s) and subcommittees that member sits on, and whether or not they hold any leadership positions on those committees c. Any public statements the member of Congress has made and/or legislation they have sponsored and/or voted for that is relevant to the policy or issue you care about. 3) A specific task you are asking of the member of Congress a. Vote a certain way on a bill or nomination? b. Sponsor and/or push a particular bill through committee? c. Bring awareness to a topic that may be under-noticed? d. Make an official visit to a particular place? An example letter is included in the Scenario Files. Use c-span.org/congress and the attached “Committee Consideration” (found in the Scenario Files) as your primary starting points. Your letter should be no longer than 2 pages (excluding headers and references which should be on Page 3), double-spaced, 12-point font. The skills that you will demonstrate by completing this activity correspond to three essential areas that will be imperative in your professional development: • Written Communication • Real World Readiness and Adaptability • Research and Analysis *A Sample Thesis and Citation example is available in the Scenario Files. Public Policy Issues • Gun Control • Immigration Reform • Health Care • Tax Reform • Judicial Nominations • Environmental Protection/Regulation • Student Loan Debt • Privacy • Capital Punishment • Free Trade • Crime • Education Reform • Community Policing • Infrastructure • Gerrymandering/Redistricting • Campaign Finance Reform • National Security (Domestic/Homeland Security) • Foreign Affairs (such as U.S. relations with…) o Israel/Palestine o Iran o China o Russia o North Korea o Afghanistan o European Union . Sample Thesis Statement: Your position as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests, Family Farms, and Energy make you uniquely positioned to advance the prospects of bringing sustainable and affordable energy sources to the thousands of small family farms across America. Specifically, there are three bills currently under consideration by the Agriculture committee that I ask you to strongly consider pushing forward. Sample Chicago Style Citation: H.J.R. 99, 115th Cong. (2017). (View the page cited) C-SPAN. “Members of the 115th Congress.” C-SPAN.org. https://www.cspan.org/congress/members/ (accessed Month Day, Year). Committee Consideration Each committee receives many bill referrals over the course of a Congress – far more than the panel is capable of pursuing in any detail. The committee’s chair has the chief agenda-setting authority for the committee; in essence, the chair identifies the bills or issues on which the committee will try to formally act through hearings and/or a markup. The first formal committee action on a bill or issue might be a hearing, which provides a forum at which committee members and the public can hear about the strengths and weaknesses of a proposal from selected parties – like key executive branch agencies, relevant industries, and groups representing interested citizens. Hearings are also a way to spotlight legislation to colleagues, the public, and the press. At the hearing, invited witnesses provide short oral remarks to the assembled committee, but each witness also submits a longer written version of his or her feedback on the bill. After witnesses’ oral statements, members of the committee take turns asking questions of the witnesses. While these hearings provide the formal public setting at which feedback is solicited on the policy proposal, committee members and staff engage in additional assessment of the approach through informal briefings and other mechanisms. Also note that a hearing is not required from a procedural standpoint for a bill to receive further action from the committee. A committee markup is the key formal step a committee ultimately takes for the bill to advance to the floor. Normally, the committee chair chooses the proposal that will be placed before the committee for markup: a referred bill or a new draft text. At this meeting, which is typically open to the public, members of the committee consider possible changes to the proposal by offering and voting on amendments to it, including possibly a complete substitute for its text. A markup concludes when the committee agrees, by majority vote, to report the bill to the chamber. Committees rarely hold a markup unless the proposal in question is expected to receive majority support on that vote. The committee may vote to report a referred bill, with recommended changes that reflect any amendments adopted during the markup. As an alternative to a referred bill, it may instead report out an original or clean bill that was basically written in the markup process itself from a draft proposal. Most House and Senate committees also establish subcommittees – subpanels of the full committee where members can further focus on specific elements of the policy area. The extent to which subcommittees play a formal role in policymaking – for example, by holding hearings or marking-up legislation prior to full committee consideration – varies by chamber and by committee tradition and practice. Whatever role a full committee allows its subcommittees to play, subcommittees cannot report legislation to the chamber; only full committees may do so. the work should look like this below Congressman John Doe Address Washington, DC (or district/state office) Date Dear Congressman Doe, My name is Jane Smith. I have been resident of your congressional district since before you were elected to Congress and have happily voted for you in each of your 6 elections. As you are likely aware, we face a public-school crisis here in [name of hometown]. Given your role as a representative of [town name], and your status as Vice-chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and Chair or the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, I urge you to vote against and/or effectively kill the bill currently under consideration that would reduce federal funds to public schools in this district.
As you know, HB 101 states “…….”. The current use of federal funds in our public schools allows for, among other things, the employment of 47 full-time educators specifically trained to help our student with special needs, oversee before and afterschool programs that benefit 789 students, and a drop-out prevention program that, since its implementation, has reduced our dropout rate by 37 percent and increased the high school graduation rate by 22 percent. Not only do these programs have immediate beneficial impacts for the students involved, it also serves our community at large by increasing economic productivity.
In October of last year (just prior to your re-election), at a campaign rally in [town name], you stated “investing in our children has to be a priority not only for parents and teachers, but our society-at-large, good pubic schools are important for not just students, but our citizenry and larger community.”
As my representative, I expect you to make good on that campaign rhetoric. I have every confidence that you will, just as you can be confident that your constituents are paying attention to how Congress moves forward with education policy and we are fully prepared to back candidates who will not only keep their promises, but do what’s best for children. Respectfully, Name.
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