Huntington AP students debated the Build Back Better Act.  (1)

AP Government Classes Participate in Congressional Simulation

Huntington AP students debated the Build Back Better Act. 

January 4, 2022

Huntington High School social studies teachers Katie Hanft and Sarah Buchalter coordinated a multi-day learning experience for Advanced Placement Government and Politics course students consisting of a simulation of Congress debating and voting on the Build Back Better Act.

Class members assumed specific roles, including serving as senators and representatives from key states and on powerful Congressional committees.

“In preparation for the conference committee between the US Senate and House of Representatives, all students worked in a standing committee to draft components of the omnibus bill,” explained Joseph Leavy, Huntington UFSD chairman of humanities. “They ultimately brought these marked up bills to the floor of each chamber. There were speeches, caucusing, occasional tense politics and negotiations.”

Mr. Leavy watched the proceedings from a press seat and he was impressed. “The committee negotiations reached its peak when Ms. Buchalter’s student, Alyson Baker, who playing the role of Senator Joe Manchin, exacted some concessions from fellow Democrats. She did this, aware of the peril it poses to the senator’s re-election and perceived commitments to his constituents back home in West Virginia.”

“My class was the Senate and the other class was the House of Representatives,” Ms. Baker said. “We all were assigned different politicians and had to research their views and beliefs. On the first day of the simulation we all met in the auditorium and began debating different aspects of the bill in small groups. On the second day we continued the debate and toward the end, we voted. It resulted in the passing of the Bill Back Better Act.”

The simulation required students to be familiar with the proposed legislation’s many aspects, including its estimated costs and related political controversies.

Senior Madelyn Bavaro assumed the role of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She called the roll of her classmates, who were all playing the parts of House and Senate members. The yeas and nays rang out.

“The simulation went great,” Ms. Bavaro said. “We put a lot of effort into making sure we all knew our part for the mock Congress, especially Emily Geller and Jamie Kretschmer. It was nice to see that everyone’s effort paid off and we were able to have a successful experience. It truly made me understand how important parts of the government work on a deeper level. It also helped me become more comfortable and confident with public speaking, which is an added bonus.”

Ms. Bavaro (Pelosi), exhausted from her relentless work to keep the party united, was satisfied to hear that the Senate had also passed the bill in its reconciled form. “We are not sure if this will get the president’s signature this month or next,” the teenager/House speaker said. “We can ask Ms. Hanft that question!”

Why Ms. Hanft? Well, she played the role of President Joseph Biden.