A Brief Overview of Penn Model Congress


Delegates should be well-versed on specific knowledge concerning your bill and general knowledge concerning your committee.

Delegates do not need to prepare any formal research. Any relevant information on other bills proposed in your committees will be provided by the author or asked of the chair through “points of information.” You will also be given all bills in your committee on the first day and may choose to do further research on specific bills if you so choose.


Students write bills on an issue that they are passionate about and that falls within the jurisdiction of their committee. They submit this bill to the committee where it will then be debated by the members of the committee. 

Committee Debate:
  • Committees receive a set of bills written by the members of the committee on a wide variety of issues under the committee’s jurisdiction.
  • Committee members act as Senators or Congresspeople and debate the policy written in a bill.
  • Committee members are allowed to defend or debate any and all sides of a bill or issue, regardless of their own beliefs on the topic.
  • Committee members are not expected to conduct any external research into the topics of the bills.
  • Committee members are not allowed to do any external research during committee debate. Any relevant information should be asked of the chair.
  • Committees follow parliamentary procedure (explained below) when debating.
  • Committees vote on whether to pass the bill or to fail the bill.
  • Bills that receive a plurality of votes will pass.
  • A round of applause is given when a bill passes and then the next bill is selected for debate.

An Overview of Parliamentary Procedure (Robert’s Rules of Order)

Robert’s rules of order are based around points and motions that members may introduce in order to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted flow of debate. Please do not feel overwhelmed, our chairs are here to help guide you through these rules of order during the conference.

Rules of Committee Sessions

Motions are introduced after the chair asks “are there any points or motions on the floor at this time?” to which a delegate would respond “motion to _______.” The motion is then voted on either passes or fails. Motions require at least a majority, with some requiring a two-thirds majority.

  1. Pro (4 minutes) - always granted to author unless they defer to another delegate
  2. Con (4 minutes)
  3. Pro (2 minutes)
  4. Con (2 minutes)

The committee then enters Unstructured Debate. Speakers are always provided 2 minutes unless specified otherwise and there is no requirement for pro or con. Points and motions are allowed at this time.

After a bill moves to the previous question, the author receives 2 minutes for closing remarks or may defer to another delegate.

Below are a list of the most common points and motions that you’ll need to know.

Rules of Committee Sessions

When a bill is introduced, the committee enters Structured Debate during which no points or motions can be introduced. This takes the form of four speeches:

Motion to:

  1. Introduce a bill: begins debate on a new bill
  2. Move to the previous question: brings the current bill to a vote
  3. Amend: introduces an amendment to a bill
  4. Extend the speaker’s time: grants additional speaking time to the current speaker
  5. Unmoderated Caucus:

Points are similar to motions in the way they are introduced (“Point of ______”), but serve a different purpose and do not have to be voted on. Some may also be introduced at any time.

Point of:

  1. Personal Privilege: used if a delegate must excuse themselves from committee (bathroom, water, etc)
  2. Clarification / Information: allows delegates to ask questions, directed at the chair,  about the bill or facts relevant to the bill. A chair may rule any request dillatory (invalid) as they choose.
  3. Order: used when an error has been made or a question arises regarding Parliamentary Procedure.