By Kara Danvers
Congratulations! Friday morning will have come and gone in only a matter of days, and all your hard work will have paid off! Now you can sit back, relax, and… try to figure out what in the world the Senators are talking about.
As a House student, it can be a bit confusing to understand what happens in the Senate session. Don’t worry, though: this is your sure-fire guide to figuring out the Senators and all that will happen Friday afternoon.
The first big (and pretty much only) difference between LEAD’s House and Senate tracks is amendments. These amendments can change the way you vote for a bill.
As a House student, you are assigned one bill to support and one bill to oppose. You can’t change your position on these bills. No matter if you hate your assigned bill, you still have to support it in your Wednesday and Friday sessions. And even if you actually think the other team’s bill is a good idea, you still have to fight against it.
It’s different in Senate. You are still originally assigned one bill to support and one bill to oppose. However, you can also add amendments to a bill.
Here’s an example. Say Party 1 actually really likes Party 2’s bill on school safety, but thinks the language is a bit too broad. Party 1 and Party 2 can compromise on an amendment that clarifies a saying or statement in the bill. If the amendment is passed, both teams will support the bill.
Although amendments can promote compromise, they can also produce poison pills. A poison pill is something one party slips into the bill that makes the entire bill pointless. An example from last year would be the Costco Amendment. While this amendment did not pass, it is a good example of how a poison pill works.
Party 1 was against Party 2 passing a bill that gave illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. Party 1 introduced the Costco amendment, which gave immigrants the right to use a Costco membership card as a form of identification when applying for a license. The amendment would have made the bill useless, because a Costco membership is clearly not a valid form of I.D.
Senators introduce amendments on both Wednesday and Friday. During the Senate session on Friday, the first thing Senators will do is amendments. They will either try to introduce new amendments or repeal amendments that got passed on Wednesday. As a House student, you are not allowed to vote on amendments. However, paying attention to what amendments pass give you a better understanding on what you’ll actually be voting for or against later.
So here’s the basic breakdown.
- Senators write amendments.
These amendments either
- Bring two parties together over compromise on a single bill, or
- Tear them apart by making the other team’s bill useless.
On Friday, Senators will either
- Introduce new amendments, or
- Try to repeal poison pills that got passed on Wednesday
Now you’re all set to enjoy and understand Friday afternoon! And if you still don’t understand what’s happening, don’t worry – half of the senators don’t either.