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Welcome to The Dirksen Congressional Center's Communicator - a web-based e-newsletter providing educators with news and ideas to improve the understanding of Congress --

1. People Who Served in Congress
2. Congress Defined
3. Workshop: Congress in the Classroom® 2007
4. Women Serving in the 110th Congress
5. Congress: Lawmaking
6. Congress: Teaching It
7. State of the Union Bingo 2007 & Trivia
8. Postscript Information

Sketches of famous and not-so-famous Senators and Representatives

Nancy Pelosi. Since 1987, Nancy Pelosi has represented California's Eighth District in the House of Representatives. The Eighth District includes most of the City of San Francisco including Golden Gate Park, Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, and many of the diverse neighborhoods that make up San Francisco. Elected by her colleagues in the fall of 2002 as Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi is the first woman in American history to lead a major party in the U.S. Congress. Before being elected Leader, she served as House Democratic Whip for one year and was responsible for the party's legislative strategy in the House. On January 4, 2007, Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (see

Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. in 1962. Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, a native of San Francisco, have five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul and Alexandra, and six grandchildren.

Two excellent sites for more information about Speaker Pelosi are (1) the “Votes Database” hosted by the Washington Post at; and (2) the New York Times archives at


Words and phrases that describe congressional processes

Earmark. To set aside funds for a specific purpose, use, or recipient. In its most frequent use, “earmark” carries a negative connotation suggesting that the funds are used for narrow, parochial purposes that confer a special (and unneeded) financial windfall on an undeserving project. Sometimes referred to as “pork.” Proponents of earmarks argue that local officials are best suited to decide how to spend federal grants to benefit their communities; they point to successful research projects, parks, academic grants, and public works funded by earmarks.

Source: Congressional Quarterly’s American Congressional Dictionary, 3rd edition, ed. Walter Kravitz (Washington DC: CQ Press, 2001):87.



** Call For Participation: Congress in the Classroom® 2007**

DEADLINE: March 30, 2007

The 2007 program will feature a broad overview of Congress with special attention to the new 110th Congress with the Democrats in charge for the first time in more than a decade. Tentative session titles are listed below.

NOTE: Additional sessions will be listed as presenters are confirmed. More information about the content of each session will be posted as it becomes available.

  • Opening Remarks: A View from Capitol Hill –– The Honorable Ray LaHood, (R-IL, 18th District, U.S. House of Representatives)
  • Congressional Insight: An Interactive Simulation of a Member's First Term in the House of Representatives –– Bethany Dame, National Association of Manufacturers
  • Legislative Life and the Meaning of Public Service -- Grant Reeher, Associate Professor of Political Science, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
  • Rules, Rules, Rules: Congress Relies on Them -- Don Wolfensberger, Director of the Congress Project, Woodrow Wilson Center
  • Finding the Humor in Congress -- Frank H. Mackaman, Staff Member, The Dirksen Congressional Center
  • Electoral College Strategy 2008 -- Thomas F. Schaller, Professor of Political Science, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Why Principled Leadership in Public Service Matters -- Brad McMillan, Executive Director, Institute for Principled Leadership in Public
  • A Former Staff Member’s Perspective on Congress -- Brian D. Posler, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Southern Indiana
  • What Every New Senator Should Know about the U.S. Senate -- Richard A. Baker, Historian, U.S. Senate Historical Office
  • How to Get Your Point Across to Congress Members -- Stephanie Vance, AdVanced Communications, Washington DC
  • The Dirksen Center Web Suite as a Resource for Teachers –– Cindy Koeppel, The Dirksen Congressional Center

Other Program Highlights

In addition to the hour-long sessions described above, we will offer what we call "Sound Bites," or 15-minute sessions, on campaign commercials, campaign literature, a film clip of Senator Dirksen explaining the nature of congressional leadership, a new Web feature dealing with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, among other possibilities.

Take a look at The Dirksen Center Web site - -- to see what participants say about the program and to learn more about the scheduled sessions and presenters.


If you are interested in registering for the Congress in the Classroom® 2007 workshop, you can complete an online registration form found at:


Link to facts and findings about the women serving in the 110th Congress 2007–2009 on CongressLink. Find this resource –– Women Serving in the 110th Congress –– at:


Online resources emphasize historical materials about the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the U.S. Constitution.


Civil Rights Documentation Project ––

The Civil Rights Documentation Project provides a fuller accounting of law-making based on the unique archival resources housed at The Dirksen Congressional Center, including the collection of then-Senate Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL), widely credited with securing the passage of the bills. The project takes the form of an interactive presentation with links to digitized historical materials and other Internet-based resources about civil rights legislation created by museums, historical societies, and government agencies. We hope to provide resources teachers can use to create lesson plans and materials to supplement their teaching of the legislative process, of recent American history, and of the civil rights movement, among other social studies topics.

How a Bill Becomes Law: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ––

How a Bill Becomes a Law: The Case of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a student guide through the legislative process. The general purpose of this unit is to demonstrate to students the step-by-step procedure of a bill becoming a law using the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a case study. Students will understand how Congress makes laws and the role of congressional committees in this process. This will help them understand key concepts associated with the legislative process such as filibuster, cloture, bipartisan, petition, and lobbying. Additionally, they will also see how controversial social issues, such as civil rights, greatly affect the process.


State of the Union Bingo 2007 is offered by The National Constitutional Center for students in grades 6-12. Designed as a lesson plan to engage students with the address in a fun and interactive way, this learning tool helps users understand the constitutional requirements for the State of the Union address, examine the choices the President makes, describe the events and topics addressed, and analyze the President's legislative plan. Find State of the Union Bingo 2007 at:

** State of the Union Trivia **

Practice makes perfect! See how many multiple-choice questions your students can get correct. Find State of the Union Trivia at:

Trivia: First elected to the United States Senate in 1960, this man became the longest serving senator in American history on June 12, 2006. Who accomplished this feat?

A. Edward Kennedy
B. Robert Byrd
C. Joseph Biden
D. Daniel Inouye

*Find the answer in next month's issue.

Answer to December's Fun, Facts, and Trivia:

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