Lesson Plan

Congressional Committees and the Legislative Process

U.S. Capitol dome
Photo caption

U.S. Capitol dome.

This lesson plan introduces students to the pivotal role that Congressional committees play in the legislative process, focusing on how their own Congressional representatives influence legislation through their committee appointments. Students begin by reviewing the stages of the legislative process, then learn how committees and subcommittees help determine the outcome of this process by deciding which bills the full Congress will consider and by shaping the legislation upon which votes are finally cast. With this background, students research the committee and subcommittee assignments of their Congressional representatives, then divide into small groups to prepare class reports on the jurisdictions of these different committees and their representatives' special responsibilities on each one. Finally, students consider why representation on these specific committees might be important to the people of their state or community, and examine how the committee system reflects some of the basic principles of American federalism.

Guiding Questions

What role do Committees play during the legislative process?

How is Committee membership determined?

What role do Committees play with regard to oversight and checks and balances?

Learning Objectives

Analyze the legislative process of the United States Congress by focusing on the role of Committees. 

Evaluate how Congressional representatives can influence legislation through their specific committee assignments.

Evaluate how Committees uphold the Constitutional responsibilities of the Legislative Branch.