In our quest to retire THOMAS, we have made many enhancements to Congress.gov this year. Our first big announcement was the addition of email alerts, which notify users of the status of legislation, new issues of the Congressional Record, and when Members of Congress sponsor and cosponsor legislation. That development was soon followed by the addition of treaty documents and better default bill text in early spring; improved search, browse, and accessibility in late spring; user driven feedback in the summer; and Senate Executive Communications and a series of Two-Minute Tip videos in the fall.
Today’s update on end of year enhancements includes a new Quick Search for legislation, the Congressional Record Index (back to 1995), and the History of Bills from the Congressional Record Index (available from the Actions tab). We have also brought over the State Legislature Websites page from THOMAS, which has links to state level websites similar to Congress.gov.
Text of legislation from the 101st and 102nd Congresses (1989-1992) has been migrated to Congress.gov. The Legislative Process infographic that has been available from the homepage as a JPG and PDF is now available in Spanish as a JPG and PDF (translated by Francisco Macías). Margaret and Robert added Fiscal Year 2003 and 2004 to the Congress.gov Appropriations Table. There is also a new About page on the site for XML Bulk Data.
The Quick Search provides a form-based search with fields similar to those available from the Advanced Legislation Search on THOMAS. The Advanced Search on Congress.gov is still there with many additional fields and ways to search for those who want to delve deeper into the data. We are providing the new Quick Search interface based on user feedback, which highlights selected fields most likely needed for a search.
Robert also provided the comprehensive list of enhancements for this release:
New feature – Legislation Quick Search:
- Search Bill Status (metadata 1973-present), with or without Bill Text (full text 1993-present), collection by any combination of Congresses, sponsor and/or cosponsor, committee, legislative action (curated searches), and keywords.
- Streamlined search results list allows user to:
- Display or hide the tracker
- Display or hide the facets
- Bill detail page opens for single item search results, bypassing results list display
New feature – Congressional Record Index:
- Search the Congressional Record Index (CRI) 1995-present (beginning with the 104th Congress)
- Search CRI for terms, only
- Search CRI for terms plus text of annotated entries
- Use the A-to-Z ribbon to browse the CRI
- CRI annotated entries link to referenced CR pages and bill detail pages
Enhancements – Legislation:
- ‘Bill History in the Congressional Record‘ links from Actions tab features ‘History of Bills’ entries from CRI
- Cosponsors tab
- Sponsor name displays on the cosponsor tab
- Statistics for current, original, and withdrawn cosponsors display
- Command Line search form supports Date of Major Action search using Major Action Codes
- ‘Action on Legislation – Browse by Date’ now includes amendments. This browse was previously titled ‘Bills with Chamber Action (Daily Digest)’
- Search and browse historic bill texts has been added to the existing collection. New texts are from 1989-1992 (101st and 102nd Congresses)
Enhancements – User Experience:
- Spanish-language legislative process infographic
- U.S. States and Territories interactive finding aid map