Get to Know the New Congress … Right from the Source

At high noon on January 3, 2013, the 113th Congress of the United States convened for the first time.  After congratulations, celebrations and swearings-in, the real work of making laws, spending money and shaping foreign policy began.

Even before this session, pundits and special interest groups have had lots to say about this Congress and what it should or should not do.  How do we know what is really going on?  Where are your students getting their information about Congress?

Congress.gov

Congress.gov

An excellent place to start is right from the source: Congress.gov.  It’s a new public beta site for accessing free, fact-based information on the legislation and members of the United States Congress.

There is a lot going on in Congress, so here are a few suggestions for students to make it relevant at a variety of grade levels.

Section of Congress.gov

Section of Congress.gov

  •  Learn about and follow one of your senator’s or representative’s activities in the “Members” section.  What subject of legislation does he or she focus on the most?
  • Follow the progress of a bill or resolution using the Search box or one of the links under “Most Viewed Bills.”  What do you think about this legislation?  What has happened to it so far?
  • Tell your senators and representatives what you think, using the  “Contact Your Member” link in the “Members” section.  Do you agree or disagree with how they are representing you and your family?  What idea to you have to share?”
  • Find out what’s happening in Congress today under “Current Legislative Activities.”  If Congress isn’t in session, you can watch the most recent video.  How does what you are viewing compare to what you experience from the media? Discuss the possible consequences of learning about the 113th Congress and its activities by relying solely on the media for information.
Section of Congress.gov

Section of Congress.gov

Tip for Teachers:  Before working with students, learn your current congressional district number.  (If it’s like mine, it may have changed.)  One way is to scroll to the bottom of Congress.gov, click on House.gov, then enter your zip code in the upper right corner.  You can also find your senators by clicking on Senate.gov.

We’d love to hear how you might use Congress.gov in your classroom.  What questions might you ask your students to guide them?

2 Comments

  1. Jeanne Daggett-Kemp
    January 9, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Is the date correct below? Should it be 2013?

    At high noon on January 3, 2012, the 113th Congress of the United States convened for the first time.

  2. Danna Bell-Russel
    January 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    It has been corrected in the post. Thanks for checking in.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.