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A Congress.gov Interview with Abby Weiss, Legislative Data Specialist

Today’s interview is with Abby Weiss.  Abby is a legislative data specialist in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I began as an intern in what was previously the Office of Congressional Information and Publishing, and is now Legislative Information Services, in the Legislative Analysis and Information Section – in CRS. This is the group that writes all of the bill summaries for Congress.gov. I had studied political science at Tulane University and had been interested in the law – my parents both work in that field – so it was a super exciting opportunity to work at the Library of Congress.

As an intern, I worked with the legislative analysts to mark-up bill text, incorporating the changes to public law in an understandable way. These mark-up documents, as we call them, are a useful aid to the legislative analysts in the analysis stage of summary writing. I continued this work when I became a legislative research assistant before becoming a legislative information specialist. In that role, I regularly read through the Congressional Record, linking House and Senate floor action to legislative action steps, among other things. I regularly used Congress.gov in all positions I held, so when the opportunity came up to work for the Congress.gov team, I jumped at it.

How would you describe your job to other people?

The job is pretty eclectic and involves many moving parts, so the work can vary each day. Broadly speaking, I work with the operational and development teams to fix legislative data issues. I also analyze our member and committee authority records to track changes to ­­­both data sets. And lastly, I train staffers on using Congress.gov to accomplish their work.

What is your role in the development of Congress.gov?

My team communicates often with data partners to facilitate enhancements to Congress.gov. These enhancements might be adding new collections to the website or adding committee codes to legislative metadata so that all legislative documents related to a committee can be found in one place. Once again, pretty eclectic.

What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?

This is a hard one – there have been many enhancements to the site recently, but if I were to pick one, it would have to be the district maps on House member profile pages. It’s always interesting to click on various member profile pages and be able to visualize the areas they represent!

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?

I’ve learned a ton about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov, but I would say I have learned many interesting things in my work with committee authority records. For instance, I was interested to learn about the many ways a committee can be classified and how those classifications can often impact the committee’s authority. For example, some select committees are authorized to only investigate and report, while others may have every authority available to a standing committee.

Abby Weiss wearing a green coat and seated on a snowmobile; along a track through a forest with deep snow all around.

Abby Weiss. Photo by her sister, Talia Weiss.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

Some do know this – shout out to those of you who were unfortunate enough to work with me during the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2018 – but I’m a super Washington Capitals fan. I am from this area originally and grew up watching the team suffer every year in the playoffs, so getting that championship win under our belt felt amazing!

One Comment

  1. Suneewan Creech
    August 4, 2020 at 9:30 am

    You are awesome as always!
    Cool photo 🙂

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