Founded under the Constitution, the United States Congress had its first meeting on March 4, 1789. Congress consists of two houses: the Senate, the upper chamber, and the House of Representatives, the lower chamber. The Senate consists of 100 members, while the House of Representatives consists of 435 voting members. In the 116th Congress, the Republican Party holds the majority in the Senate, and the Democratic Party holds the majority in the House. Both chambers’ goals are to produce legislation that influences both the American people and the government. Specifically, the Senate has the power to confirm presidential appointees, ratify treaties, and try impeachment cases. Conversely, the House has the power to initiate revenue-related bills, impeach federal officials, and elect the President in the rare case of an electoral college tie.
To echo the words of former Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau, Canadians are “sleeping with an elephant”—the United States of America. Prospective Members of Congress should have an eagerness to learn about the United States and the fundamental ways American political trends impact Canada, and a willingness to set aside ideological lines and form bipartisan groups of Republicans and Democrats to craft meaningful legislation. The United States Congress at VMUN 2021 will consist of two separate committees: the Senate, and the House of Representatives. After thorough debate and research, delegates representing individual Members of Congress will aim to write and present a bill which may pass both the Senate and House of Representatives.
The U.S. Congress is undeniably one of the world’s legendary legislative bodies, and its sheer complexity is directly reflected in the challenging, yet rewarding nature of this committee. Bills passed in Congress should be written in their entirety during the conference; no bills should be written in advance of the conference. Position papers are mandatory for all Members of Congress and must be submitted by January 22nd, 2021, at 23:59 PST. More information about position papers can be found on page 3 of the Background Guide.
This topic will be first debated in the United States Senate.
The military-industrial complex covers the relationship between the United States military, the defence industry, and the government. Ever since the term was coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1961, the military-industrial complex has only gained traction with conflicts such as the Cold War, the War on Terror, and the Iraq War. The issue is focused on the defence industry and its influence on government officials, specifically members of Congress. The defence industry is able to take advantage of little market competition, corrupted members of Congress, and a high military budget to create a cycle of constant product cost increases, all of which culminates as the military-industrial complex. As the military-industrial complex grows, burden falls on Congress to take action.
This topic will be first debated in the United States House of Representatives.
Prison reform in the United States is a multifaceted issue that discusses solitary confinement, privatization of prisons, prison abuse, understaffing, and overcrowding. Reform of the United States prison system can be traced back to the 18th century, with the implementations of the Pennsylvania System and its successor, the Auburn System, which replaced the former in the 19th century. Specific issues such as the constitutionality of solitary confinement, human rights violations, private prisons, and the overcrowding and understaffing of prisons will take center stage in Congress. Current times have brought more attention to worsening prison conditions, and pressure is on Congress to apply reform to areas of concern.
Joshua Dar Santos | President of the Senate
Currently in his junior year at St. George’s School, Joshua is delighted to serve as the Director of the United States Senate for VMUN 2021. After being convinced to join Model UN in Grade 8, Joshua was inspired by the debate and compromise in the various conferences that he attended and has come to immerse himself in world politics and diplomacy. Model UN has provided Joshua with some of the best memories in his ongoing high school experience, and he hopes that you will find your own in this committee. Outside of the conference room and school, Joshua can be found ranting about the current situation of the Vancouver Canucks and playing video games. Joshua looks forward to a tremendous weekend filled with fiery debate and wishes everyone the best of luck at VMUN 2021.
Betty Pan | Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives
Betty is a Grade 12 student at West Point Grey Academy, and is thrilled to be directing the U.S. House of Representatives at VMUN 2021. Since her days as a shy and quiet beginner delegate, she has grown to love the fast-paced debate and collaborative environment of Model UN. She encourages each and every delegate, veteran or novice, to fully immerse themselves in the wonderful world of diplomacy and debate. Outside of MUN, Betty can be found going on sunset picnics, enthusing about her love of grapes, and unironically playing bingo with her friends. Please do not hesitate to reach out to her should you have any questions or concerns, and she looks forward to meeting you all in January.
Kathy Wu | Chair
As a senior at Burnaby South Secondary School, Kathy is beyond elated to be serving as the Chair for the United States Senate at VMUN 2021. Ever since her first Model UN conference in the ninth grade, she has grown to appreciate the newfound passions, invaluable skills, and most importantly, the life-long friendships that formed. Thus, she wishes to create a conference experience of equal calibre for all delegates. Outside of Model UN, Kathy loves to argue about contemporary ethical dilemmas, competitively swim, play around with SFX video editing, and chase discs in Ultimate Frisbee. Kathy hopes that everyone will find this experience extremely rewarding and sincerely welcomes everyone to VMUN 2021!
Ellen Li | Chair
Ellen has had the privilege of immersing herself in the world of Model United Nations since 2016. It is her sincere hope that in her final year of MUN, she will be able to assist each delegate on their journey of debate, discovery, and diplomacy within (hopefully) the hotel walls. Despite a natural aversion to Western Business Attire, Ellen has enjoyed both priceless experiences and lifelong friendships throughout her MUN conferences! Ellen welcomes all prospective delegates to contact her with any questions or comments, ranging from concerns regarding extraterrestrial life to ducks! Godspeed.
Mike Zhang | Assistant Director
Currently a Senior at Fraser Heights Secondary School, Mike is excited to serve as the Assistant Director of the United States Senate. Ever since timidly raising his placard at his first conference in Grade 9, Mike has been entrapped by the professional nature of Model United Nations. After attending numerous conferences, he has created amazing friendships, broadened his view on global issues and discovered the world of fast-paced debate and diplomacy. Outside of MUN, he can be found hitting balls on the golf course, smashing on the badminton court, or trying his hand at business. Mike hopes to make VMUN 2021 a great and memorable experience filled with insightful debate for all delegates!
Byeongjun Moon | Assistant Director
Byeongjun (B.J.) is a junior attending Walnut Grove Secondary and is ecstatic to serve as the Assistant Director for the United States House of Representatives at VMUN 2021. Since his first experience as a delegate in Grade 6, Byeongjun has always been interested in global issues and the ways we can solve them. In his free time, he can be found working on his never-ending pile of overdue video projects alongside a cup of coffee. Byeongjun is excited to greet everyone at VMUN 2021.
You can contact the Director of the United States Senate at email@example.com and the Director of the House of Representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any questions regarding the committee or its debate procedures will be answered by email. Position papers must also be submitted to this address.