Congressional Debate Resources
Congressional Debate is like a simulation of the real United States legislature. A group of 10-25 students, called a Chamber, will compete in a legislative session. A series of bills and resolutions will be proposed by students from various schools. Students in turn will be selected by a presiding officer — a student elected to conduct the business of the round — to give speeches both advocating for and encouraging the defeat of the measure in front of them. Following each speech, competitors will be able to pose questions of the speaker. Once debate is exhausted on a particular item, the chamber will vote either to pass or fail the legislation, and debate moves on to the next item.
Legislation comes in two types — a bill and a resolution. A bill is a plan of action, detailing how a particular policy proposal will be implemented. A resolution, meanwhile, is a statement expressing the opinion of the chamber.
Typically, one session of Congress lasts about 2-3 hours. During that time, students typically give speeches 3 minutes in length. The first two speeches on a piece of legislation are known as the first advocacy, or first pro, and the first rejection, or first con. These speeches are followed by 2 minutes of cross examination. After the first pro and con speech are established, each additional speaker is subject to one minute of cross examination by the chamber.
The NYCUDL currently offers "Congressional Debate" as a supplemental event at its City Championships and State Championships Tournamments. We are planning to pilot soon for our middle school debate division.
Sample Congressional Debate Topics
The National Speech and Debate Assocaition (NSDA) provides a sample monthly docket of congressional debate bills and resolutions on the first of each month. Click here to for the "Topics" page of the NSDA and scroll down to "Congressional Debate" at the bottom where you can download the montly docket.
Student Congressional Debate Resources
Students can access the resources below to help with congressional debate.
Teacher Resources for Congressional Debate
Click below for teacher resources for congressional debate. *Note - these resources are only available for NYCUDL teachers. If you have not yet registered your school you can do so by clicking here. If you have registered with the UDL, the email you signed up for should enable you access. If not you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the Teacher Resource Folder you will find the following resources:
- "Guidebooks" - various general handbooks
- Lessons and Curriculum
- Sample Bills and Resolutions
- and More!