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While I love it when people use THOMAS, I also like the idea of other good sources enabling the public to learn about legislation that will affect us.  THOMAS is an incredibly valuable tool, but there are areas of information that other sites use and enhance.  I’ve mentioned two examples before, where video is added to augment information from THOMAS in Where to Watch Congress Online, HouseLive from the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the C-SPAN Video Library.

United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., President's Room, detail of ceiling fresco made in 1850s showing figure symbolizing Legislation, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-96817

Another such site is  It focuses on better ways to track updates to legislation.  The site describes how it works:

The information shown on this site is assembled in an automated way from official government websites (primarily from the website THOMAS, the official website for the status of legislation run by the Library of Congress).

When looking at legislation, the site links directly to the bill in THOMAS, “the official source of information on this bill or resolution.”

Another site similar to that builds upon their information is Open Congress.  Their site details other data sources that they combine with THOMAS data.

The New York Times “Inside Congress” section lists the Library of Congress as a source for its legislation.  It combines votes for legislation with a map interface.  It also links to THOMAS for the full text of bills.

Another site that incorporates how individual Members voted is Project Vote Smart.  They also have a Voter’s Research Hotline to call for status information about bills.  When viewing legislation, there is a “Link to Legislation” that takes you to the bill text in THOMAS. allows people to vote on whether or not they are in favor of the legislation, details cost/savings per family for some legislation, and allows comments.  Clicking “Read the Bill” links to the respective legislation in THOMAS.

The Senate has an Active Legislation page that links the Bill Summary and Status page of the legislation mentioned.  The House links to how laws are made and how laws are enacted in THOMAS on their homepage.

Where else do you go for U.S. legislative data?  And what would you like to see us add to THOMAS?

Comments (7)

  1. I am not too familiar with THOMAS, so I appreciate your help in breaking it down.

  2. Thanks for the links; including this one from WashingtonWatch. I’ve used THOMAS since the 90’s, I think. I guess I’ve never paid much attention to all the brik-a-brak around the search engine. Thanks for all the years of everything!

  3. I am a retired (associate) professor of political science and a log time user of Thomas (as well as the special reports of the Congressional Research Service – a great source or information the implementation and evaluation of public policies). I plan to return to the classroom in January of 2013 so I will be using these sources more frequently (and will be encouraging my students to do the same).

    Joe McCormick
    Associate Professor Emeritus
    Penn State, York campus

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