For this assignment, students will write a persuasive letter to their member of the United States Congress, regarding a proposed bill. The purpose of this assignment is to learn about the legislative process and the role constituents play in this process.
1. The first step is to identify a bill that has been proposed (but not passed) in the current Congressional session. The bill should select an issue that you are interested in. You can research such bills by visiting the Library of Congress.
On the webpage you will see this at the top of the page.
You want to make sure you are searching in the “Current Congress.” In the second box, type in a subject you are interested in–health care, taxes, gun control etc. (You can also search by bill number if you have it.) If you search by key term, once the results appear, make sure to limit your search to just “legislation” so only proposed bills appear.
2. Once you choose a bill, read the bill. What is the title and number of the proposed bill? Is this a House (HR#) of Senate (S#) bill? What are the goals of the bill? What problem is the bill attempting to address? Who is the bill’s sponsor and why are they proposing this bill? Where is the bill in the legislative process? Where do you stand on the passage of this bill? You will likely need to do some research to more fully answer these questions.
3. The next step is to write a persuasive letter to your member of Congress, either your House representative or one of your Senators. The letter should summarize the goals of the bill, offer a persuasive argument either in support or opposition to the bill, and make at least one connection to a political concept we have discussed in class. The best letters will reference evidence from research to support the claims made in support or opposition to the bill.
4. Feel free to mail a copy of your letter to that member of Congress. If you do, please report back to the class any response you receive. (Sending the letter is not a requirement of this class and in no way would the University of Wisconsin or I be endorsing any views you express in the letter.)
● The letter should be a single-spaced letter of no more than two pages (including the heading and closing). The letter should use proper business letter format. For guidance on business letter format, see Purdue Online Writing lab.● For a list of the current members of Congress (and their addresses, click here for the House and here for the Senate. ● Any cited material should be referenced in the body of the letter or in a brief works cited page attached to the end of the letter.
Grading and Submission
The best letters will:
● Use proper business letter format.● Summarize the main goals of the bill in a concise and accurate manner. ● List the bill number and title of the proposed law.● Present a persuasive and well-reasoned argument in support/opposition of the bill. ● Reference high quality research to support the claims made in the argument in support/opposition of the bill.● Make connections to course concepts that are relevant and demonstrate an understanding of the concepts.● Be written in a clear and easy-to-follow prose and contain no or very minor grammatical error.
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