Spartan Ram Fall Classic

2023 — Katy, TX/US

Lakes Congressional Debate (Friday)

Abbreviation L-VCD
Format Congress
Entry Fee $25.00
Overall Entry Limit 59
Entry Limit Per School 6
Entry 1 competitors per entry

Event Description:

Congressional Debate
Congressional Debate enables the student to gain a better knowledge of political science while utilizing the skills of public speaking, group discussion, debate, and parliamentary procedure. Students have the opportunity to qualify for the Texas Forensic Association State Tournament as a Representative in the United States House.

Congressional Debate may be run in any pattern at the discretion of the tournament director, and the tournament director may limit cross-entries. A minimum number of actual minutes for floor debate must be met.

1. Preliminary Session: A preliminary session is defined as including:

18-20 students as the optimum number for three-hour session
Election of a presiding officer
New seating chart
Resetting of precedence/recency
New legislation that has not been debated in a previous session in the tournament

2. Floor Debate: Following the first two speeches on legislation, the presiding officer will alternately recognize affirmative and negative speakers, who will address the chamber for up to 3 minutes, followed by 1 minute of questioning by other delegates. If no one wishes to oppose the preceding speaker, the presiding officer may recognize a speaker upholding the same side. When no one seeks the floor for debate, the presiding officer may ask the chamber if they are “ready for the question” at which point, if there is no
objection, voting may commence on the legislation itself. There is no “minimum cycle.” At the point at which 3 speeches are given unopposed the previous question will be immediately called.

a. In the event a student speaks on the wrong side called for by the presiding officer and the error is not caught, the speaker shall be scored and the speech shall count in precedence, but the speaker will receive no more than 3 points for not paying close attention to the flow of debate.
b. In the event a student speaks on an item of legislation not currently being debated, said speech shall count in precedence, but zero points shall be awarded.
i. Violators who speak on the wrong side or the wrong item shall be refused further recognition for debate on that piece of legislation, and that speech will count for precedence.
c. Speeches shall last no longer than three minutes with one minute of cross-examination time with the exception of sponsorship/authorship speeches and the first negative speech, where cross-examination shall last no longer than two minutes.
d. Members shall not yield any portion of time for questioning.
e. Members may ask only one question per questioning period. No prefacing or multiple part questions are allowed. Speakers may request the rephrasing/repeating of a question, at the discretion of the parliamentarian. Members may ask additional questions if no members who haven’t asked a question want to
ask a question.
f. Members must speak only after being recognized by the presiding officer.
g. Members may not suspend the rules in order to change rules stipulated in the TFA Constitution.
h. Authorship shall be attributed to submitting schools. Therefore, opening speeches on a given piece of legislation will be authorship or sponsorship speeches, depending on whether the school authoring the legislation is in attendance at each tournament. If the author of the legislation is not in the
chamber, the chair will recognize a member legislator to begin debate, according to precedence.
i. Amendments – Students may offer amendments to legislation on their docket. Once accepted by the Parliamentarian, a speech introducing the amendment will be treated as a sponsorship speech, not one of authorship, and will be followed by 2 minutes of cross-examination. The first negative speech will be followed by a 2-minute questioning period. A brief statement of justification is allowed, but not scored.
j. Two minutes of questioning shall follow the first pro and the first con speech, and all other speeches on legislation will be followed by 1 minute of questioning. All rounds will include a direct questioning period, as described below.
k. In the all rounds of Congressional debate, speeches are three minutes, with two-minute questioning of speakers introducing legislation as well as the first negative, and one minute of questioning for subsequent speakers. Each questioner has 30 seconds within the one or two minutes to engage in direct questioning with the speaker. During direct questioning, all questioning periods are broken into 30-second segments, with one questioner per segment, who may ask multiple questions of the speaker during that segment. The Presiding Officer must track and select questioners based on recency the same way speakers are recognized. Recency for speaker should be tracked independently of questioners.
l. Optional rule for tournaments: Time for debate per legislation item should last no more than one-third of a session’s floor time. If action has not been taken on the legislation by that time, an immediate vote shall be taken. All TFA Tournaments including the State Meet must declare in their tournament invitations if this rule is being used. If not so declared, there will be no per-item limit on floor debate at that tournament

3. Legislation: Legislation for Invitational Qualifying Tournaments in the regular season shall be available for all schools and participants on the website at

a. An “All Call” for legislation will invite all TFA member schools to submit up to three (3) pieces of legislation for consideration two times per year: Due by May 1st for debate in the months of August-December, and due by November 1st for debate in the months of January-March (including TFA State competition).
b. No more than 2 pieces of legislation will be placed on the docket from any one school. The Congressional Debate Committee shall establish a docket of exactly 30 pieces of legislation for each of the two halves of yearly competition and post for use by all schools equally.
c. In the event there are fewer than 30 items submitted that meet the Committee’s standard for debate, the Committee shall complete the docket with current topical legislation from other sources than the TFA membership.
d. Tournament Directors shall designate in their invitation which pieces of legislation shall be used in Prelims, Semis, and Finals.
e. Plagiarism and “extensive paraphrasing” are not allowed. While some legislative issues continue to merit legislative debate in Congressional Debate, the creation of legislation surrounding the issue should be the original work of the authoring school. Legislation from NSDA District contests, NSDA Nationals, and previously submitted TFA Congressional Debate legislation (not the work of the submitting school) are all reviewed when a challenge to originality is made. If at any point it is discovered that a school has submitted plagiarized work for the docket, the school will have the item of legislation on the docket removed. The school will also lose authorship of any other pieces of legislation they might have on the docket. The Congressional Committee will have the ability to add a new piece of legislation to the docket either by moving up an item that missed the cut or by pulling from other sources.
f. Requirements - Legislation which does not conform to guidelines will be rejected from consideration for the Congressional Debate calendar.
i. Bills or resolutions are to be typed using the template provided on the TFA website. Templates are located on the TFA Congress page at
ii. Legislation Deadlines
1. May 1 for August-December debate
2. November 1 for January-March (including TFA State) debate

4. Parliamentary Procedure: It is necessary for all Congressional Debate participants to have a working knowledge of parliamentary procedure. The Parliamentarian shall be the final authority on both parliamentary and Congressional Debate rules.

5. Ballots and Forms: All Ballots and Forms for Congressional Debate will be available to all members on the TFA website.