United States Senate Committees
As with the committees in the United States Senate, the Senate Committees at Rutgers Model Congress are smaller than their House counterparts, leading to a more in-depth study of the issues under discussion. While House members are much more likely to base their votes upon the needs of their specific districts, Senators often focus more on the interests of their state and the nation as a whole.
Committee on the Judiciary: Richard Trent
Topic A: Online Piracy and Copyright Law: Copyright protection in the United States gives the creators of content, including movies, music, and software, protection from those that attempt to create unauthorized copies. The computer and the Internet have created a means for individuals to take digital media, copy it with no cost, and make it available all over the world. Aggressive protection though will limit the freedom of speech, stifle Internet start-ups, and make websites less secure. Congress must find a solution that protects corporate interests without sacrificing the personal liberties given to us in the Constitution.
Topic B: Same-Sex Marriage: Same sex marriage is a contentious issue in the United States. Currently it is neither recognized by the federal government nor a majority of states. Same-sex marriages authorized in permitting states are not recognized outside of its own borders. This prevents same-sex couples from getting the financial benefits of marriage and is seen by marriage equality groups as unequal treatment by the government. Defense of marriage groups believe allowing same-sex marriage will erode the values of marriage and have negative consequences for the country. It the committee’s job to consider all interests and the possible impact of any legislation on this issue.
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology: Shane O’Hanlon
Topic A: The Digital Economy: The digital economy is an emerging topic globally because it focuses on essentially the Amazon effect, which is the ability to buy and sell goods in a virtual space. However, a pure online economy is unfair for small business and is risky for individuals because the door is opened for virtual theft. Punishing these online crimes is hard because there are no precedents to do so.
Topic B: Future of the Space Program: The space program has been a cornerstone of U.S. science policy since the 1950s. With manned space flights winding down and technology progressing at an unprecedented rate, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) must make critical decisions about the future of space exploration. Issues such as manned flights to the moon, maintenance of the international space station, exploration of Mars, and deep space investigation are all priorities for Congress to consider when authorizing new programs for NASA.
Committee on Foreign Relations: Siv Cheruvu
Topic A: U.S.-Iran Relations: With international pressure from Israel, the United States relationship with Iran has an extensive history including a CIA coup, hostage crisis, severing of diplomatic relations, and sanctions. During this juncture in which Iran is pursuing nuclear power, what should U.S policy be going forward? Should a nuclear Iran be prevented at all costs, or should the state be allowed to peacefully pursue nuclear energy as an alternative source? The United States policy towards Iran will shape its relations in the Middle East for decades to come.
Topic B: Drone Strikes: The United States has used unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, as a tactical combat tool in the war on terrorism. However, the collateral damage and the constitutionality of targeted strikes has called the executive branch’s use of drones into question.
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, Pensions: Sabrina Arias
Topic A: Re-evaluating Federal Education Programs: Education policy has been a major concern of the last two presidential administrations, which has led to an implementation of varied federal education programs. Evaluating the success of these programs is critical to ensuring that the American educational system can remain competitive globally, taking into account fiscal efficacy and scientific findings.
Topic B: Childhood Obesity: Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in American society, and federal responses have been historically been limited. Community resources, family support, and school programming are necessary avenues to explore. Senate HELP will seek to expand the federal response to childhood obesity.
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Saba Bajwa
Topic A: Airport Security: National security is increasingly being threatened, and this is especially true in areas of transportation in and out of the country. The information age has provided us with technology like full body scans to detect these threats, but this creates a conflict between the protect of our country’s security and our Constitutional right to privacy.
Topic B: Disaster Preparedness: The state of disaster management in the United States is disorganized; as evidenced by Hurricane Katrina and other major disasters, communication is lacking between different levels of government, and FEMA often has inadequate resources and information to address the problems at hand, to effectively provide disaster relief. Each level of government’s role in disaster management is unclear, therefore the response to disasters is disorganized; state and local governments are dependent on FEMA, rendering them unable to effectively respond if a disaster were to occur.
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry: Brandon Smith
Topic A: United States Farm Bill and Public Health: Critics charge that the current iteration of Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, also known as the the United States Farm Bill, has led to inefficient spending and unhealthful practices. Reforming this legislation has the potential to re-sculpt the American diet, reduce obesity, and reduce federal outlays to the farming industry.
Topic B: Genetically Modified Organisms: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)’s are an emerging technology with the potential to reshape the way agriculture is performed within the United States of America and the wider world.Yet with the emergence of this new technology a flood of new issues has emerged questioning everything from the efficacy of consumption to the ability to own an organism. Answering these issues has the potential to shape how the world views GMOs for decades to come.