Welcome, Yale Model Congress delegates!
On this page, you’ll find information that will help you prepare for a successful conference experience. Read the Delegate Code of Conduct, explore the information on Special Committees, and be sure to brush up on Robert’s Rules of Order!
To register for YMC 2017, please fill out the form here.
To find information about financial aid, click here.
Preparing for the conference ^
Want tips and tricks on writing a good bill for YMC? See Tips for Bill Writing in our Guide to Yale Model Congress 2016.
Summary of Committee Debate Structure
I. Structured Debate
A. Primary Speeches: 1 pro/1 con, 4 min. each
B. Secondary Speeches: 1 pro/1 con, 2 min. each
Speakers may yield their time to the chair or to questions.
II. General Debate
Speeches on either side, preferably alternating pro/con, 2 min. each Speakers may yield their time to the chair, to questions, or to one other speaker.
A. Structured Debate: 1 pro/1 con, 2 min. each
B. General Debate: 2 pro/2 con, 1 min. each
Debate on an amendment will take place during general debate if the proposed amendment is seconded and deemed unfriendly by the bill’s sponsor.
Financial Aid (Delegates) ^
Applying for financial aid
Delegates can apply for financial aid to cover the delegation fee and the cost of lodging at the Omni hotel during the conference. Delegates should fill out the financial aid application and select what types of aid they would like to apply for. Delegates are encouraged to use the further information section to explain their desire to attend Yale Model Congress. Forms must be submitted by email to Kiannaat email@example.com by 11:59 pm on October 6 for Round I applications and October 20 for Round II applications. If you do not receive confirmation that I have received your application, you will not be considered for financial aid. Delegates who apply for financial aid receive an additional two weeks to pay their delegate fee.
Financial aid decision process
Yale Model Congress will decide financial aid awards by 11:59 pm on October 9 for Round I applications and October 23 for Round II applications and notify applicants and their advisors of our decision by email. Decisions are based on demonstrated need, desire to attend the conference, and prospective benefits of attendance. Depending on the delegate’s application, we may award partial or full delegate fee waivers and may cover up to the full cost of a delegate’s lodging (1/4*3 nights’ stay at the Omni).
Receiving financial aid
Delegate fee waivers are processed immediately. Delegates receiving financial aid to cover the cost of accommodations will receive reimbursement directly upon arrival at the conference. If the cost of their accommodations had been covered by their school, the school would receive reimbursement instead. Students that need their accommodation fees covered in advance should contact Lina Xing at firstname.lastname@example.org with details regarding their situation.
Special Programs ^
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Presidential Cabinet section of Yale Model Congress 2016′s Special Programs. My name is Fish Stark and I am the Director of the Presidential Cabinet. We at Yale Model Congress are committed to providing a realistic Congressional simulation. As a Special Program, the Presidential Cabinet takes this one step further by both considering legislation and leading the country through whatever crises it should face between December 1st and December 4th. Building upon its role last year, the Presidential Cabinet will face even more, and more realistic, domestic and foreign policy challenges.
The Presidential Cabinet targets experienced Model Congress delegates. In House and Senate committees, delegates are expected to compose bills, debate and pass them in committee, and go on to do the same in full session. The mission of the Presidential Cabinet, on the other hand, is to set an agenda for the Presidency, evaluate the merits of passed bills, and to respond to any crises that arise. Cabinet members will need to be familiar with current events and information relevant to the office they hold. For example, the Secretary of State should have some familiarity with the political climate as well as fairly strong knowledge of U.S. foreign policy. For more information regarding Cabinet positions and how to petition, please refer to the Presidential Cabinet Positions guide.
During committee, members will collaboratively develop an agenda for the administration, sign or veto passed bills, and respond to any national crises that may occur. Crises, as we know, may occur at any time, even when committees are not in session. Should such a situation arise, Cabinet members will need to respond appropriately and decisively. The Cabinet will need to take into account the implications of any action while considering the consequences of inaction. These situations will require specialized knowledge from individual Cabinet members. Cabinet members will be evaluated and awarded based on their interaction with others, depth of preparation, and ability to extemporize and problem solve as events play out.
I am excited to be the Presidential Cabinet Director, and I would encourage you to apply to the Presidential Cabinet. Should you be admitted to the 2016 Presidential Cabinet, be prepared for a challenging and rewarding conference. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I look forward to seeing you in December.
Presidential Cabinet Director
Yale Model Congress 2016
My name is Layla Treuhaft-Ali and I am delighted to be your Supreme Court Coordinator for Yale Model Congress 2016! If you are registered with this committee, you will have the opportunity to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court as an attorney and evaluate cases as a Justice. I promise that your experience serving on the Supreme Court in both these roles will give an enlightening perspective into the role of the judicial branch of government. Constitutional arguments ask theoretical questions about what the best form of government should be, while simultaneously dealing with laws that can have dramatic consequences on Americans’ everyday lives. I hope you will find this way of thinking as fascinating as I do.
In 1803, the landmark decision of Marbury v. Madison established and acknowledged the necessity of judicial review in order to ensure the balance of power between the three branches of government. To quote the case’s conclusions, “It is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret the rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Court must decide on the operation of each.”
As you study the cases, try to identify the point of conflict within these legal scenarios. Here are some guiding questions to help you get started: What does the existing law say? What are the plaintiff’s claims as to how a particular law has been inappropriately applied in the case’s circumstances? How should we interpret the law within the legal boundaries the Constitution? Finally, what consequences do our interpretations of the law have for maintaining the spirit of constitutional principles and our Bill of Rights? As an attorney, you will build an argument based upon whether the application of a law to a certain situation has violated a constitutional article or amendment. As a Supreme Court Justice, you will make a final ruling on whether or not the attorneys have made a convincing argument for overturning the law in question based on the evidence for and against its constitutionality.
In June, the Supreme Court will announce its decisions in three crucial areas: affirmative action policies in public universities, the constitutionality of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that all institutions provide their employees with access to birth control as part of their health insurance. As you can see from these examples and your interactions with the news, the law plays a fundamental role in determining policy. If you attend Full Sessions, you might even have the intuition to think about the legality of bills that your peers have crafted and will defend in Congress. One more piece of advice—let your knowledge on what laws have meant historically inform you on how the law should be applied in the future.
The more preparation you do on the cases, the more fun you will have with presenting your arguments with confidence, ease, and fluency. Ask your advisors questions as you prepare the cases, and likewise, always feel free to email me with your questions and comments. Help will always be there for those who ask for it!
I look forward to meeting you on the (objectively) best committee at Yale Model Congress. See you in December.
Chief Justice Treuhaft-Ali
Supreme Court Coordinator
Yale Model Congress 2016
Robert's Rules of Order ^
Rules of Procedure for Committees
A. Parliamentary Authority
The Yale Model Congress bases its rules on those of the United States Congress. However, certain modifications will facilitate the operation of our conference. The following sections contain the written rules for the Yale Model Congress. The appropriate staff member (Committee Chair, Speaker of the House, or President of the Senate) has the power to make the necessary ruling in a situation not fully covered by these rules. Similarly, the staff of the Yale Model Congress reserves the right to change or override any of the below rules.
The presence of 1/2 a committee’s members constitutes a quorum for debating and voting.
The bills assigned to a committee in the delegate guide constitute its agenda. The committee can choose to move these bills in any order it desires. Beginning Saturday, delegates can move legislation not in their delegate guides.
All bills and resolutions require a simple majority of those present for passage; a tie fails. Votes requiring a 2/3 majority for passage do not fail on ties. Votes shall be taken by asking delegates to raise their placards. No roll call votes shall be taken. All delegates must vote on procedural matters.
E. Structured Debate
The consideration of any bill or resolution moved to the floor by a committee shall begin with structured debate. Structured debate consists of four speeches, in alternating pro-con order, with the first speech in favor of the main motion. The sponsor of the bill is selected based on the procedures of Motion to Consider (the sponsor is usually the author of the bill), and the sponsor gives the first pro speech. Next, the Chair recognizes a delegate opposed to the main motion. These two delegates can each speak for four minutes. Delegates chosen by the Chair give the next pro speech followed by a con speech, and these speeches can last no more than two minutes each. All motions to amend a bill or resolution or for the previous question are out of order during structured debate. Delegates may yield the remainder of their time to the Chair or to questions, but not to other delegates.
F. General Debate
The committee moves into general debate after structured debate has ended. Here, the Chair recognizes delegates to give alternating pro-con speeches. These general debate speeches may not last longer than two minutes. As in structured debate, delegates may yield their time to the Chair or to questions; however, in general debate, delegates may also yield the remainder of their time to another delegate. A delegate speaking on yielded time may speak until time elapses, or the delegate can yield the remaining time to the Chair. However, the delegate cannot yield to a third delegate or to questions. During general debate, delegates can present motions to amend a bill or resolution, provided the amendments are made in accordance with the rules of procedure described in Section H.9. In addition, a motion for the previous question is also in order during general debate.
Delegates must remain courteous and respectful throughout committee sessions. Chairs will deal appropriately with those violating this important rule.
The points and motions in the following precedence shall be in effect for the committees of the Yale Model Congress:
1. Point of Personal Privilege
A delegate may rise to a point of personal privilege if something prevents his or her participation in the proceedings (i.e. lack of decorum, sound problems, etc.). The point of personal privilege may interrupt a speaker only if the conditions prevent the delegate from following the proceedings.
2. Point of Order
I. During the discussion of any matter other than a pending point of order, even when another delegate is speaking, a representative may raise a point of order. This motion notes a violation of parliamentary procedure. The Chair, in accordance with the rules of procedure, shall immediately decide upon a point of order.
II. A representative may subsequently appeal the ruling of the Chair. The representative may speak briefly on behalf of his or her appeal, and the Chair may then speak in defense of his or her ruling. The committee then votes on the appeal, and the Chair’s ruling shall stand unless overruled by a two-thirds majority vote.
III. A representative rising to a point of order may not speak on the substance of the matter under discussion. The Chair may refuse to recognize points of order deemed by his or her discretion dilatory or irrelevant.
3. Point of Parliamentary Inquiry
During the consideration of any matter, except the address of another delegate, a representative may raise a point of parliamentary inquiry. This motion enables delegates to request a clarification of committee procedures. The Chair shall answer inquiries in accordance with the rules of procedure.
4. Point of Information
I. A delegate may rise to a point of information in order to ask a factual question regarding the matter under discussion. The point is made when no one has the floor or during the question period of a speech. The question is addressed to the Chair, who may refer it to a delegate, if necessary. A point of information may not relate to procedure or express an opinion, and it may not interrupt a speaker. An example of such a question is, “What percentage of the federal budget is allocated for defense?”
II. After the Chair has answered one question, the delegate who asked the initial question may ask one follow up question. To do so, that delegate must announce that his/her point is a follow up. Follow up questions will be entertained at the Chair’s discretion.
5. Point of Inquiry
I. After a speaker has yielded to questions, delegates recognized by the Chair may present a point of inquiry, a question for the speaker about anything regarding the topic of discussion. Through points of inquiry, delegates can solicit the speaker’s opinion on some aspect of the discussion; these points also help to spark lively debate. The Chair may rule any point of inquiry dilatory. Also, delegates should remember to remain courteous and respectful of other delegates when questioning them. Delegates should phrase all points of inquiry to the delegate through the Chair. By using the third person, debate maintains its proper focus on the issues, and limits personals attacks. For example: “How does the Senator/Representative feel about . . .?” rather than, “How do you feel about . . .?” Likewise, a delegate responding to a question should use the third person and not refer to the person who asked the question as “you.” Use of the word “you” is acceptable when speaking in the passive voice.
II. After the speaker has answered one question, the delegate who asked the initial question may ask one follow up question. To do so, that delegate must announce that his/her point is a follow up. Follow up questions will be entertained at the Chair’s discretion.
6. Motion to Appeal the Decision of the Chair
If a delegate believes that a Chair’s decision has violated these rules, he or she may appeal the decision of the Chair. If passed, this motion will reverse a decision made by the Chair. This motion requires a second and a debate between the appellant and the Chair, with the appellant giving the first speech. Only one speech by the appellant and one by the Chair are in order during this debate. The motion must gain support of two thirds of the body to reverse a Chair’s decision. Note that motions to appeal the decision of the Chair are normally unsuccessful because of the Chair’s discretion in all matters.
7. Motion to Suspend a Rule
The Motion to Suspend a Rule signals a member’s desire to temporarily change a rule of procedure. It requires a two-thirds vote for passage. When making the motion, a delegate must indicate when the normal rules will resume effect. For example, a delegate may move to suspend the rules in order to extend another delegate’s speaking time.
8. Motion to Caucus
This motion calls for a short time period (not to exceed 10 minutes) to informally discuss the current issues. The delegate must state the desired amount of time. Chairs have full discretion to allow such motions, which require a majority to pass.
9. Motion to Amend
Delegates should make a motion to amend when they wish to change a bill or resolution in a manner that is still consistent with the preamble. The following procedure shall be followed for a motion to amend.
1. A delegate will write an amendment on paper and give the written amendment to the Chair.
2. When the Chair asks for motions, the delegate makes a motion to amend.
3. The Chair reads the proposed amendment aloud.
4. The Chair asks the bill’s author if the amendment is friendly or unfriendly. If friendly, it becomes part of the bill and general debate continues.
5. If unfriendly, the chair asks for a second and, providing there is one, the body moves into structured debate on the amendment.
6. The author of the amendment will be offered the first two-minute pro speech and the author of the bill will be offered the first two-minute con speech.
7. General debate on the amendment begins. General debate will last no longer than two pro-con sequences of speeches of one minute each.
All speeches and questions during debate on an amendment must pertain to the amendment only and not the main motion in general. A delegate may not introduce a secondary amendment (an amendment to an amendment). As in general debate, debate of an amendment concludes with a motion for the previous question on the amendment. If passed, the committee then votes on the amendment only. After a vote on the amendment, the committee returns to general debate on the main motion.
10. Motion to Lay on the Table/Take from the Table
If an issue of pressing importance arises during the discussion of any substantive matter, the assembly may temporarily dispose of the matter under discussion by successfully moving to lay the matter on the table. A delegate may not interrupt a speaker to table a matter. This motion requires a two-thirds majority and the Chair’s approval for passage. If passed by a majority of the delegates, the motion to take from the table immediately reintroduces the tabled matter. A motion to take a bill or resolution from the table is only appropriate when no other main motion is being considered. Both motions require seconds.
11. Motion for the Previous Question
The Motion for the Previous Question ends debate on a topic. One member may speak against the motion, and it requires a two-thirds majority for passage. A vote on the issue at hand immediately follows the passage of the motion for the previous question. After a motion for the previous question passes, but before a vote is taken on the bill/resolution, delegates may move to divide the question. Section H.13 describes the proper procedure for making such a motion.
12. Motion to Divide a Question
After a Motion for the Previous Question has been passed, a delegate may move to divide the question. The mover shall specify the manner of division, and the Chair will ask for a second. Debate consists of two, one minute speeches, one pro and one con. The mover shall be offered the pro speech. Passage requires a majority vote. Delegates may not divide out legislation’s preambulatory or enactment clauses.
If the Motion to Divide passes, each part of the bill as specified by the motion shall be voted on separately. If all parts fail, then the bill fails. If all parts, or some meaningful combination of parts, pass, then the approved parts are voted on as a whole.
13. Motion to Consider a Bill/Resolution
This motion brings up a specific bill or resolution for debate. It requires a second. If the bill’s author is present, the author becomes the bill’s sponsor and is entitled to all the privileges granted to the sponsor elsewhere in these rules. If the bill’s author is not present, debate on the bill or resolution will normally be postponed; however, under extenuating circumstances, the Chair may allow another delegate to sponsor the bill. Regardless of which of the two methods was used to select the sponsor, the sponsor then has the option to begin debate on the bill. If the sponsor chooses not to begin debate, then a different bill or resolution must be considered (barring, as always, an override from the Chair). If the sponsor chooses to begin debate, the Motion to Consider is voted on. Passage requires a 1/3 vote. The sponsor must give the first pro speech. Objections to consideration are not allowed.
14. Motion to Introduce a Bill/Resolution
This motion allows bills not found in the Delegate Guide to be the subject of a Motion to Consider. Passage requires a second. As mentioned in Section C of the Rules of Procedure for Committees, this motion is out of order until Saturday.
15. Motion to Recess
The motion to recess suspends proceedings until the next session (as stated in the conference schedule).
16. Motion to Rise
The Chair may only accept a motion to rise at the end of the last session. It closes proceedings at the end of the conference.
Rules of Procedure for Plenary Sessions
Bills that are passed in Committee are eligible for debate in Plenary Session if and only if they were included in the delegate guide.
The Rules of Procedure for Committee apply in the full House and Senate as well, except as modified by the following changes.
The full House and Senate will begin with structured debate, consisting of one four-minute pro speech by the main proponent and one four-minute con speech by the main opponent. After their speeches, speakers may yield to questions or to the Chair. Structured debate will be followed by a maximum of four one-minute speeches in general debate in alternate pro/con order. Yielding rights during general debate are identical to committee session rules. After the sixth speech, no more substantive speeches are in order and a Motion for the Previous Question must be made.
A bill or resolution, when passed by a majority and signed by the President, has the force of law. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority for passage.
E. Motion to Adjourn
The Motion to Adjourn replaces the Motion to Rise.
Before moving to amend, delegates must submit in writing, to the Chair, any amendments to a bill or resolution. The plenary session debate structure for amendments is different from committee rules. Structured debate on amendments consists of a two-minute pro speech and a two-minute con speech. After these speeches, there is a maximum of one more pro speech and one more con speech of one minute each. After the fourth speech, no more substantive speeches are in order and a Motion for the Previous Question must be made.
Code of Conduct ^
The Yale Model Congress staff feels that security must be taken seriously to ensure a
safe, successful conference. For this reason, the following guidelines for student conduct have been established. Each delegate must be familiar with the rules detailed in these guidelines and abide by them during the conference.
1. A crucial security concern is the state of hotel property. If you are responsible for any
damage to hotel property or endanger your own safety or the safety of others, you and your entire delegation will be expelled from the conference and the hotel. Each student is legally responsible for damage to hotel property.
2. Smoking is prohibited during the entire conference. Drugs and alcohol are also prohibited at all times during the weekend. Conference and hotel authorities may confiscate any drugs or alcohol found in the possession of a student. Students found in possession of drugs or alcohol will be immediately expelled from the conference.
3. Curfews will be strictly enforced. All students must be in their hotel rooms by the designated times. Since there are other guests in the hotels, noise levels must be kept to a minimum. The hotels have the authority to ask persons that are disturbing other guests to leave the hotel.
4. Any type of racial or sexual harassment, as well as crude, hurtful, or inappropriate language or jokes will not be tolerated. If this behavior is identified, you risk dismissal from the conference.
The above rules supplement those established by Federal, Connecticut, and New Haven laws, hotel policy, and your school policy. Violation of any rule may result in the expulsion of the student(s) involved and/or their entire school delegation. The students will leave at their own expense. The Yale Model Congress Association does not accept any liability. Faculty advisors are responsible for the conduct of their students. The Omni Hotel has authorized Yale staff to supervise the students, which may require entry into students’ rooms. The Yale Model Congress President has the final decision on all matters relating to rules and regulations during the conference.