There are some great new features and improvements now available on Congress.gov. Our team from across the Library of Congress has worked hard to have the first version of both Advanced Search and Browse in this release. I’m also happy to announce that another requested page from THOMAS has now made it over to Congress.gov, the Appropriations Table.
As we continue to add more and more content from THOMAS to Congress.gov, it has been interesting to see how the feedback people leave lines up with what we are planning next. After our September release there have been several comments asking for an Appropriations Table page on Congress.gov. Meg worked really hard on the new page with Margaret, Tina, and Jeanine.
Jeanine has also updated the Congress.gov Enhancements page.
This release focuses on two new features – Advanced Search and Browse, while making improvements to facets and the Actions tab.
New feature – Advanced Search
Implemented the first iteration of advanced search with a focus on bills, resolutions, and amendments. Items include:
- Twenty-two legislative data fields, each with support for contextually appropriate operators;
- A graphical user interface supports grouped and/or/not fielded searches;
- An entry box is available for users who prefer to learn and use the Solr syntax to compose and execute a command line search;
- Contextual help including pop-up “cheat-sheet” listing fields for command line search;
- Integration of the advanced search link into the global search box; and
- Integration of the advanced search into the search result display.
New feature – Browse
Implemented the first iteration of browsing, including browse lists for laws, bills, resolutions, and amendments; bills by subject; vetoed legislation; and legislation with committee or conference reports. All browse lists link to standard search result lists, including facets.
Improvements – Action Tab
- Added check all, uncheck all functionality
- Chamber column for All Actions clearly distinguishes between House and Senate actions
- Various labeling changes to improve readability of the tab
- Added intro text that shows number of items (faceted and total)
Improvements – Facets
- Status of Legislation facet spans across all available content, 1973-present
- Renamed “Legislation Type” to “Bill Type”
- Removed “Law” as a facet value (this information is available via the “Status of Legislation” facet)
Thanks for using Congress.gov and keep sending us your feedback!
How is the appropriations table different or better than what is already available at //thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app14.html
The one on THOMAS will be retired when THOMAS is retired. The new table is streamlined and uses responsive design (adapts to any device).
In the Field Name Look up for the Advanced search, I don’t see one for Bill – Number or Public Law Number. It was very easy in Thomas to select the congress and just type the bill number. Am I missing something?
They aren’t specifically on the Advanced Search page, but can be searched directly from the main search box that is across the site. The Search Tips Overview page details that when “searching by public law number, do not include a prefix. For example, 112-139.” There is also a table with suggested bill prefixes. The results usually show the bill from the current Congress first.
You can use the advanced search by using “All fields” for the form interface. For example, a Public Law in the current Congress, a Public Law in a previous Congress, a bill in the current Congress, and a bill in a previous Congress.
Why is there no ability to limit the Congress on the front end. It’s much easier to pick your Congress on the front end (especially if you’re doing extensive research because you’re probably not just searching for 1 bill but several). To have to redo that limit every time is a waste of time.
Current Congress versus All Legislation isn’t really helpful. It would be helpful to be able to pick the 107th Congress (for example) and not have to filter the rest out.
I know Thomas is retiring so I’m trying to use Congress.gov instead but its frustrating when it’s taking me longer to do the research. Not because I’m trying to figure out the system but because I’m having to filter out a lot of stuff that I never had to deal with in Thomas.
How do I limit dates? For example, I’m interested in the number of bills introduced that addressed (directly or indirectly) a specific visa classification (e.g., “H-1B”) – but I’m interested in two time periods: 2002-2007 and 2008-2013 for comparison. THOMAS had the ability to restrict dates – this doesn’t seem to.
The Thomas appropriations display is easier to use and has more functionality. Specifically, the Thomas display allows me to select a bill and easily select any part of the bill for detailed examination by one click. The Congress display requires the use of a search function to find parts of the bill. Please continue the current Thomas display and functionality. Thanks
The old appropriations table was much more detailed, with committee and subcommittee markups. Why are these not included in the new one?
I agree with John and Eli regarding preference for the Thomas.gov appropriations table. The new Congress.gov appropriations table omits committee action, which, in recent years, has been all that some of these bills ever see. The new table should be at least as functional as the old one.