The purpose of this paper is to familiarize you with a current issue facing Congress and with how you can have your voice heard. Begin by finding out about current and upcoming issues before Congress. You could also address a regular occurring issue, such as the next budget or an issue that has been on-going, such as immigration. You can find information about issues facing Congress at the magazine Roll Call and the online news source Politico. Once you’ve identified a current issue that interests you, clear the topic with your instructor and then do some research.
In a paper of about 3 pages (not counting a cover page and bibliography), describe the major features of the issue. For example, for a bill you should describe the major provisions, as well as who will be affected and how. The paper should identify the major actors involved in the bill or issue and their efforts to support or oppose it. Those might be key members of Congress, organized interests, the President, or others. Include the views of both proponents and opponents of the bill. Find out where your Representative or Senators stand on the issue. Conclude your paper by taking a stand on the issue. Explain and justify your position.
The library has databases of publications on its resource page that can help you find articles about your issue. Papers should include a bibliography with at least 3 sources used to investigate your issue. The bibliography and citations in the text should follow APA format. A very good source on current issues in the library’s databases is CQ Researcher that has full text reports on many current issues; you’ve been reading many of their reports each week. Recent issues of CQ Researcher might also give you an idea for a paper topic.
The second part of the assignment is to write a letter to your member of the House or Senate or to the editor of a local newspaper about the issue or problem that you researched.
Letter writing tips: 1) Know what you’re talking about. 2) Be respectful. Even if you disagree with someone’s position, you can do so in a courteous way, 3) Be brief. Staffers don’t have a lot of time to devote to each letter. Keep the letters to no more than a page. Turn in a copy of the letter with the first part of your assignment. Send the original copy to the elected representative or the editor and see what kind of response you receive.
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