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  • Cindy Koeppel
    COMMUNICATOR UPDATE: May 2003 Welcome to The Dirksen Congressional Center s Communicator - a web-based e-newsletter providing educators with news and ideas
    Message 1 of 1 , May 12, 2003

      Welcome to The Dirksen Congressional Center's "Communicator" - a
      web-based e-newsletter providing educators with news and ideas to
      enhance civic education and improve the understanding of Congress --


      <<< Construction Progress >>>

      On February 11, 2002, The Dirksen Congressional Center announced plans
      to build a new facility in Pekin, Illinois. On May 23, 2002, the Board
      of Directors approved schematics for the building.


      Plans for the new facility:
      View an artist's renderings of the building:
      Project schedule:
      Construction progress:

      <<< Join The Dirksen Center Friends! >>>

      The Dirksen Congressional Center is pleased to offer an opportunity for
      you to join "The Dirksen Center Friends." Your $25 annual dues will
      support the work of The Dirksen Congressional Center, a non-partisan,
      not-for-profit organization that conducts educational and research
      programs for scholars, teachers, and students.

      Join now and enjoy the benefits listed at:
      http://www.dirksencenter.org/friends.htm Instructions for becoming a
      Dirksen Center Friend can be found at:

      Thank you for your support!


      <<< The Work of Congressional Committees >>>

      Much of the work of Congress is done in committees. This is where bills
      are sent after they are introduced, hearings are held, and the first
      votes on proposed laws are taken. Visit The Dirksen Center's Web suite -
      http://www.webcommunicator.org - to find resources that will help your
      students examine the role that congressional committees play in the
      legislative process of the U.S. Congress.

      The Dirksen Center asked leading American political scientist Charles O.
      Jones to identify the ten most important points that a high school
      student should know about Congress. Find item 7 in Professor Jones's
      list, along with questions and activities that can be used in the
      classroom to illustrate his point that committees are important in both
      chambers for preparing bills and why they are especially critical in the
      House of Representatives. Find this item listed in "What Every Student
      Should Know About Congress" at:

      There are four different types of congressional committees, (1)
      standing, (2) select, (3) joint, and (4) conference. Visit
      AboutGovernment to learn more about the structure of the committee
      system. Find "Committee Types and Roles" at:

      The official legislative process begins when a bill or resolution is
      numbered and is referred to a committee. CongressLink posts information,
      adapted from "Congress at Your Fingertips" from Capital Advantage, that
      will help your students understand how our laws are made including
      committee action. Find "How Our Laws Are Made: Short Version" at:

      The number of congressional subcommittees grew in the 20th century, and
      the explosion of interest groups means there are many more organizations
      trying to influence policy in the same area. The increase in interest
      groups and congressional subcommittees has led political scientists to
      think of these subsystems as issue networks rather than "iron
      triangles". What are "iron triangles"? Introduce our CongressLink
      featured lesson plan to help your students learn about iron triangles
      and understand how issue networks are formed at the federal level. Find
      "Iron Triangles" at:

      The increase in subcommittees has made it possible for interest groups
      to deal with fewer legislators in pressing their position.
      CongressLink's "Related Lesson Plans" highlights the best lessons on the
      Web about Congress. One related lesson plan introduces students to the
      nature of the legislative process and helps them understand how
      committees and subcommittees help determine the outcome of this process
      by deciding which bills the full Congress will consider and by shaping
      the legislation upon which votes are finally cast. Find "Congressional
      Committees and the Legislative Process" at:

      Once a bill is written, you have to keep your eye on it because it
      starts to move. Sometimes a bill moves quickly, other times it moves
      slowly. You always have to be on your toes if you're going to follow it
      all the way until it becomes a law. Teachers, do your students know how
      a bill becomes a law? Are they aware of committee action in the process?
      Help your students learn that there is a definite process by introducing
      "Bills on the Move" found on Congress for Kids. Find this interactive
      exercise at:

      <<< Featured Project >>>

      Conference committees play a key role in the legislative process, but
      the literature on them remains relatively sparse. This month our
      featured project is a Congressional Research Award of $2,558 granted to
      Eric Hines from the University of Iowa. This study, "Strategic
      Appointments to Conference Committees in the U.S. Congress," examines
      conferee selection to find the conditions under which party leaders make
      strategic appointments to conference committees. Learn more about this
      project and others at:

      <<< Committee Witty? >>>

      1. Legislation that has been passed in different forms by each chamber
      is reconciled into a single bill by...

      A) standing committees
      B) select committees
      C) special committees
      D) conference committees
      E) secret committees

      2. The House committee with primary jurisdiction over tax law is...

      A) Appropriations
      B) Financial Services
      C) Ways and Means
      D) Finance Committee

      3. What specific kinds of bills can be introduced only in the House of

      *** 20 Minute Activity ***

      Teachers prepare a worksheet: List the different committees in the
      Senate and House of Representatives. It should also list various bill
      proposals. Pass out worksheets and have students match the bill to the
      committee they would assign to it. Discuss answers as a class.

      Answers to the April issue of "Fun, Facts, and Trivia" link here:

      Have a great summer! Encourage your colleagues to subscribe to the
      Communicator. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, contact
      Cindy Koeppel at mailto:ckoeppel@... Your feedback makes a

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