Last month, Amy Swantner shared information about how Legislation Text search results in Congress.gov have been enhanced with Key Word in Context. For today’s release, several helpful new features have been added to Congress.gov. The global search bar has been updated to default to Current Congress instead of Current Legislation, Committee Prints are available for the first time, and a video providing an overview of the Legislative Process is now available in Spanish.
Current Congress in Global Search Bars
Rather than defaulting to Current Legislation, the global search bar now defaults to the broader category, Current Congress. When doing a Current Congress search you will return legislation, committee reports, committee meetings, committee publications, Congressional Record, members, nominations, treaty documents, House communications, and Senate communications. This should help break down the silos of content on the site. If you still only want legislation, you have two quick options. As you type in the search box, two options will appear beneath it for searching in the Current Congress either across all sources or just legislation (see image below). Select “legislation” and it will run a search limited to legislation in the current congress. The other option is to select the More Options tab and have the Quick Search Form expand. When you do this, it expands to a search for just legislation in the current Congress.
This change makes it easier to find new content that has been added to Congress.gov over the last year, including the committee hearings and, also with today’s release, the committee prints.
We have been laying the groundwork for the addition of Committee Prints over the last several releases of Congress.gov. At a high level when we add a new collection like this, we start with designing what it will look like on the site. We create a database, pull in the content (in this case from our partner, GPO’s govinfo), add the content to our search, and build the new detail pages. Now that they are available on the site, we will continue to work to refine and enhance how Committee Prints are integrated on Congress.gov.
When looking at the committee prints in search results you can see the committee that is associated with that print.
If you click on an item in the results list, you can see how a committee print displays.
The committee and the date are listed in the overview. The default text when available is XML/HTML as with legislation. You can get committee prints in your results if you select Current Congress, All Congresses, or Committee Materials from the global search bar. If you select Committee Materials from the new global search bar drop down, you will have Committee Reports, Committee Meetings, and Committee Publications. You will also find links to committees prints added to places on the site where mentioned such as amendments.
Legislative Process in Spanish
A video overview of the legislative process was one of the original features of Congress.gov. In December 2015, we added the related legislative process chart in Spanish. With today’s release, we now have the legislative process overview video in Spanish (Descripción General del Proceso Legislativo), along with the video transcript. You can get to this from the Legislative Process section on the homepage.
We continue to enhance Congress.gov to make it a more efficient and useful tool for members of Congress, their staff, and constituents. If you have suggestions please share in the comments below.