House of WAHS

Model Congress takes over Western


Credit: Emma Duckworth

Senators cast their votes

It’s that time of year again. Model Congress is an annual event at Western when seniors throw on ties or a dress and emulate their elected officials in Washington. The event is always fun to watch and keep up with, so The Western Hemisphere will be keeping our readers up to date with all the gossip and debates.


Senate Finance Committee, 9:28 AM

Even those at Model Congress with leadership positions have the responsibility of persuading others to vote for their bills. Senate Minority Whip Nayiri Krzysztofowicz began her day in the Banking and Commerce committee explaining her bill SB 502. Also known as the Independent American Act, the Republican’s bill aims to reform government welfare programs by reallocating money to the states. Provisions of the bill include a cap on individual welfare spending, increased monitoring to welfare benefits, and the requirement that able-bodied citizens on welfare continue remaining occupied on either work or job searching. The bill was one of the first passed of the day, voted on with resounding approval.

By: Olivia Gallmeyer


House Judiciary Committee, 9:58 AM

The judiciary committee began the day debating a host of death penalty bills. The end result was a combination of three, sharing the belief that the death penalty is unlawful and inhumane. The base was TJ Spencer’s HB 520. Colin Moore’s HB 502 added jobs to the bill, essentially that an inmate can work jobs around the prison if they qualify. Courtney Bland amended with the addition of “reparations” for the inmate’s families. Andrea Li’s HB 503 is moving on, an equality bill pushing for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation. HB 519 was an attempt to move Election day to a full weekend, instead of just one Tuesday. It was written by Tom Lengel. It was added to Jared Carter’s HR 513, which would provide  transportation to any citizen in need of a ride to the polls. This was hotly opposed by ranking Member Roland Poulter Martinez, who wanted to expand mail-in or absentee ballots, instead of spending the time and energy moving people to and from the polls. It applies only to presidential elections, not federal or state. It passed as a combination of 3.

By: Tim DeSimone


International Relations/ Veteran Affairs 10:15 AM

The room started out quiet but soon the committee was in a heated discussion over bills involving the closing of Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), providing care for veterans, the taking in of Syrian refugees into the U.S, and processing of Illegal immigrants. Chethan Shivaram proposed the bill involving the closing of GTMO and the ability for prisoners to have fair trials. The guilty will be imprisoned in Maximum Security prisons in the U.S. and innocent released back into their countries. This bill barely passed with a very close winning vote. Several other bills involving the care of Veterans were passed with almost no contesting votes.

By: Jack Lesemann


National Security Committee 9:45 AM

Within the senate, many bills have been debated and passed. In the National Security committee, a bill proposed by Senator Austin Germani regarding the legalization of medicinal marijuana was debated. The bill included decriminalizing marijuana, and getting rid of dispensaries instead having marijuana be distributed through pharmacies. The House committee of education and labor debated about reforming standardized tests. Elissa Simpson called for the repeal of the No Child Left Behind act and a new federal law that creates a balance of some sort of standardized testing as well as freedom for teachers to teach what they want.

By: Gabby Eng


Security Committee 9:50 AM

Hands were flying and arguments were happening as the Senate debated security bills. The leaders of the group, Daniel Forsman and Jonathan White brought up key issues such as an end to search and seizure. Marijuana was also an issue of concern for every senator in the committee. There were many parts to the bill as well that were fiercely debated.

By: Ben Masselli


Senate Floor Session I, 12:11 PM

After party caucuses, Ms. Innes’ Senate students crammed into the choir room to begin floor debate on bills. Some pass with much approval; SB 403, reclassifying marijuana as a class 2 drug that can be prescribed by physicians, garners a near-unanimous vote after only a couple minutes of debate, including a yell of “heck yeah!” from one Republican. Others prove more controversial- SB 103, Senator Maddy Ix’s bill on comprehensive women’s health care, creates many questions as Democratic senators describe the wide variety of federal regulations posed on women’s health clinics. However, the bill is passed with a surprising amount of bipartisan votes, despite its previous disputes on the floor.

By: Olivia Gallmeyer


House Floor Session 1, 12:27 PM

The House Democrats, led by TJ Spencer, lead an effort to push for the removal of the death penalty. The Republicans oppose as they saw the fight a violation of the 5th amendment, that the power should reside solely with the states, and not the federal powers. It passed.

By: Timothy DeSimone


House Floor Session 1, 12:35 PM

The Equal Rights amendment bill supports the equal rights of all citizens, it includes that there will be no discrimination under the law due to gender, sexuality, gender expression, etc. The Democratic party supports this bill. They believe this bill will insure equal protection and provide constitutional protection in lawsuits. Republican Representative Stutzman argues: the bill may bring back affirmative action based on gender instead of race (as it did throughout the 1900’s). Democratic Representative Kingsley(D) fires back: discrimination still exists, we need a constitutional base that will end discrimination. There are still many instances of companies that discriminate based on sexuality/ gender. All people have the rights that they deserve. The bill failed due to the fact that a 2/3 majority vote was needed.

By: Spencer Stevens


Senate Committee Sessions, 2:12 PM

As the final committee sessions of the day grinded to a halt, the major topic among female senators was not bills or votes, but one commonly echoed sentiment: “My feet are killing me!” From sensible pumps to striking stilettos, many girls are sporting heels for the occasion, yet have begun regretting the decision as the strenuous day of lawmaking continued. “These aren’t even real high,” Senate Finance Committee chair Rebecca LaBelle commented, showing off her shoes of choice: black, with a small chunky, heel. “But my feet still hurt, and I have stage crew rehearsal after this!” However other girls commented on how powerful the heels made them felt, something they found worth the pain. In a quick poll, the Western Hemisphere staff found a 4 to 11 vote, that heels were worth the pain.

By: Olivia Gallmeyer


In the Halls, 1:13 PM

Olivia Cornish, whose bill- that a person should not be able to be a presidential candidate if they had not held public office- was surprised to see that her bill was shut down so early. She explained that after working on a bill for weeks, it is disappointing to see it denied. But after thinking about it, she decided that she agreed with it, and sort of wished she had chosen a different bill. Olivia was also sort of relieved, to know that she did not have to do anything for the rest of the day. Steven Kuzjak straightened his jacket and confidently said, “Yep, my bill passed!” Then he leaned towards me and said a bit quieter, “but personally, I don’t care at all. I don’t care about government, and I think this is all pointless.”TJ Spencer, looking sharp with his green bowtie, was sad to say that his Death Penalty Abolition act had not passed. It made it all the way to the floor, and then “it died,” as he put it. Despite this part of the day, TJ was enjoying the day. “It’s a place where you are allowed to argue, and it’s all professional.”The pages were having as much, if not more, fun than the seniors. They spent their lunch laughing about bills and even arguing about some.

By: India Mawn


Lunch Time, 1;15 PM

Many interesting conversations ensued during lunch for the members of Model Congress. One of these was a debate about what animal Congress would be. The two main options seemed to be dogs and pandas. Then it was suggested that replacing Congress with animals from the SPCA would be a better alternative than our current government. “Cats versus dogs would be no better than republicans versus democrats,” says Hannah Taubenberger. A few students said they would want to build a wall like Donald Trump, but made with bamboo instead. 

By: Jessica Klees


Republican House Caucus 2:44 PM

The Republican House Caucus was a mess. With a fresh batch of bills none of the members had ever seen before, pandemonium ensued as they attempted to pledge allegiances. A highlight of the show was the decision to  vote against SB 404, which would prevent the sale of guns to any persons on the “no fly list.” “I don’t hate guns, I hate terrorists,” yelled one passionate Republican.

By: Timothy DeSimone


Senate Floor Meeting 2, 3:10 PM

During the Senate meeting, much was discussed between the two parties about voter turnout in America lately. There was a movement led by Republicans to shorten the campaign period to improve the problem in the US. Overall, the arguments always came back to the Guillotine bill. Republicans and Democrats alike made jokes and arguments and in the end the all important Guillotine bill was passed and will be brought to President Bicker’s desk.

By: Benjamin Masselli