Critical Thinking - Analyzing Congressional Floor Debates

Components of an Effective Argument

Making an Effective Argument in Congress

When Members of Congress are urging their colleagues to support their proposal on the floor of the House or Senate, they can't just say: "This is a good bill. I hope you'll support it." Instead, they need to be able to convince a large number of Members from often quite different backgrounds, with different priorities and different perspectives, that their proposal really makes sense.

"Daniel Webster addressing the United States Senate, in the great debate of the Constitution and the Union 1850." 1850. Print. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. (accessed March 29, 2012)

How do they do that? And what sorts of reasons do they typically offer? In this section you will learn about fifteen types of considerations Members will use to make their case. Not every floor or committee statement contains every one, but a strong argument will typically contain several.

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