By Luis Taganas
The annual Mock Congress for the AHS government classes took place on Friday, Feb. 6. As students in government classes, all seniors at the school prepared all year to participate in a simulated version of the U.S. legislature.
Mock Congress is an event that gives a hands-on lesson to government students about how laws are passed in the United States. All elements of legislature are covered, including drafting, debating and voting on bills.
Students in the regular government classes acted as the House of Representatives and AP students represented the Senate. Both houses were further divided into the right-wing Oak Leaf Party and the left-wing Hornet party. The percentages of each reflected the real life percentages in Congress, with the Oak Leafs slightly outnumbering the Hornets.
Bills are chosen by committees among either party to be proposed during Congress. The bill is first introduced by the author or a sponsor, and the floor opens for questions. Then other speakers make arguments either for or against the bill. The House Speaker then calls a vote. If the bill passes the House, then it is voted on in the Senate, and finally goes to the President who gives a final sign of approval, or a veto.
Major roles in Congress, such as the Speaker of the House, the President, Minority/Majority Whips, and others, are taken on by students who are elected by the government students.
The Speaker of the House this year was senior Hazim Muftic, who explains “Honestly, I didn’t really do anything,” when asked about his campaign. “My friends just kind of did everything,” Muftic said. His victory was not a surprise to him, explaining that “I know my friends…if they want to get something hyped they do it.” As Speaker, Muftic was in charge of introducing bills and making sure everything on the House agenda is covered. “My favorite part was being able to tell people to ‘stop talking’ and ‘sit down’,” Muftic said.
One of the most talked about bills this year in Mock Congress was the so-called “Gladiator” Bill, brainchild of, Rep. Matt Fee. Fee’s bill involved “gladiator style fighting” in order to “reform the prison systems.” Prisons and inmates would run events much like exhibition fights one would see in the UFC. The events would turn out profit that would go “towards recidivism” and its prevention.
When asked about his bill, Fee said that “it started as a dumb idea,” that blossomed into a serious proposal for Congress. There was a “tremendous amount of support from the House of Representatives,” but in the Senate, “the idea was so drastic and shocking, it scared people into not wanting it.” The bill fell in Senate, but Fee looks proudly on his creation for making it through the House.
The excitement of Mock Congress was also present in the Upper House, where John Grimaldi pulled a filibuster to prevent a bill from passing. “I was filibustering a bill on nuclear fusion,” Grimaldi said. “We didn’t have much time for any of the other bills…I kind of didn’t want to see it debated.” But, Grimaldi’s efforts proved to be unnecessary as the bill was immediately voted down by the Hornet Party.