Birth of a Bill
A WebQuest for
In this activity, your team represents the staff of a major special interest group in the United States. You will be working to answer the following two questions:
Your goal is to develop and write a bill that
would help to promote the causes and beliefs of your interest group.
You must also write a cover letter that you will send along with the
bill to a lawmaker, attempting to convince the lawmaker to sponsor and
introduce your bill into Congress.
Your team must work together on all stages of the process. However, one team member will act as the manager of the entire project, while other team members will each act as the leader of one of the four steps in the process. Your team needs to decide who will assume each of the following roles.
Interest Group Researcher
1) As a whole team, choose ONE of the following 10 interest groups. This will be the organization that your team works for during the rest of this activity, so try to pick one with issues that excite you.Click on the website of your interest group. Do research on the basic beliefs and causes of the organization. Take notes as you go. Discuss a law you think this interest group might want Congress to pass. Decide on the topic of just ONE law. This law must relate to the interest group's goals.
STEP TWO: Research Old Bills
1) It would be pointless to write a bill that Congress already passed or is currently debating. Therefore, your team needs to determine if Congress has already passed or is currently debating the bill you want to pass. Also, it is useful to research bills that are related to your topic to help clarify exactly what your law would promote. Adjust the topic of your bill appropriately as you go. If Congress already passed a bill that you were planning to write, change the topic of your bill.2) The Library of Congress created a search engine that was specifically designed to research past and current legislation. Donít forget to search under all of the years available. Take notes as you go.
STEP THREE: Writing the Bill
1) The chief bill writer should work with other group members to write the bill that your interest group would like Congress to pass. Make sure your bill suggests a clear, simple action or policy that would be easy for the government to implement. This suggested action must match the goals of your interest group. Use Microsoft Word to type your bill in the appropriate format.
2) Click on the following website for instructions on how to write a bill.
3) It would also be helpful to look at sample of bills that have already been written to serve as a model for your bill. You could go back to the Thomas Search Engine. Or click on one of the model bill below.
STEP FOUR: Writing the Cover Letter
1) The chief letter writer should work with other group members to write the cover letter that will accompany the bill you send to Congress. Remember that although special interest groups can write a bill, only members of Congress can actually introduce the bill into Congress. The cover letter that you send needs to persuade the lawmaker that society would benefit from your bill. This type of persuasion is called lobbying. Make sure you also include a brief introduction to the basic beliefs of your interest group.
2) Use the following websites to research tips on writing letters to Congress. Follow the advice that these sites give.
3) Choose one member of Congress to be the recipient of your letter and bill. This lawmaker should have a powerful position on the committee that is most closely related to your bill. You could send your bill to either a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate. Use the following websites to research the appropriate committee for your bill. Once in these sites, find the name of a powerful person on the committee. This will be the lawmaker to which you send your bill and letter.
4) Research the address of your lawmaker on the following website. Make sure you include this address in the appropriate business letter format. Use Microsoft Word to type the letter.
Each group will be evaluated according to the following rubric.
Please note: This lesson aligns with the U.S. Government Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.1.4. The student will explain roles and analyze strategies individuals or groups may use to initiate change in governmental policy and institutions.
Image of a Bill. ďAmerica RockĒ (video), Scholastic Rock, Inc. 1995
Thanks to Kim Champagne for all of her assistance.
Last updated on August 15, 1999. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page