Purpose of Congressional Debate
Student Congress, also known as Legislative Debate, is defined as an individual debate in a large group setting. Legislative debaters research and write pieces of Congressional legislation that they determine to be in the best interest of society. The purpose of Student Congress is to familiarize students with the type of debate that occurs in a Senate or House in the legislative branch of government, and parliamentary rules of procedure are used to govern the conduct of the speakers.
Structure of Congressional Debate
During a round, debaters speak on proposed legislation while using proper and sanctioned parliamentary procedure. The speaking order moves from pro-con-pro, and there is a time limit of 3 minutes for speeches. Like other forms of competitive debate, the contestants may know the issues before the tournament, but like extemporaneous speaking, the problems are always changing. Potential Presiding Officers give short orations to persuade others to vote for them.
Students use orderly rules and procedures during the debate. The most used motions are: To Amend, the Previous Question, To Lay on the Table, To Suspend the Rules and Point of Order or Point of Parliamentary Procedure.
Students who do well participate actively in the debate and use of parliamentary methods. Judges score each competitor based on argumentation ability, speaking technique, knowledge of parliamentary procedure and overall participation.