Top of page

Screenshot of treaty document on with parts. displays all parts of partitioned treaties for users.

Modernizing Congressional Data – Treaty Documents on

Share this post:

The following is a guest post from Andrew Reiter, a legislative data specialist in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress. Andrew previously blogged about an update on the API.

Continuing our series on modernizing the legislative data exchange behind, we are going to look at the next phase of the project – modernizing the exchange of data for Senate treaty documents.

The United States Constitution provides that the president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make treaties.” Treaties are binding agreements between nations and become part of international law.  Treaty documents are referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where they may be considered and reported. The Senate can consider a treaty on the floor under similar procedures used for legislation. However, the Constitution requires that two-thirds of voting senators agree for a treaty document to be ratified.

When we began the process to modernize the legislative data exchange, we had to keep in mind that treaty documents are quite different from legislation. For example, unlike bills, which die at the end of a Congress if they have not received final disposition, treaty documents remain in or are re-referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations at the end of each congress until the Senate has completed action by agreeing to the resolution of advice and consent to ratification or by returning the treaty document to the President.

With data standards in mind, the Senate and Library of Congress built a more robust system. Utilizing unique identifiers in the modernized data, the data exchange supports specific and precise updates as a treaty document moves through the legislative process. Congress attributes were added due to the unique longevity of treaty documents. For example, the congress attributes allow Treaty Document 114-1 to accurately link to amendments and an executive report dating from Senate consideration during the 116th Congress. The new data exchange was tested to account for partitioned treaties, such as TD 114-13(A), as well, since this was an important feature that is unique to treaty documents.

Users can search treaty documents using the search form or advanced search, which includes a query builder form and a command line search. See Search Tools for details on using operators and fields in your search query. Treaty documents fields can be used in the search bar and the advanced search command line. Filters available for treaty documents include Congress, Committee, Status of Treaty Document, and Topic. See Refining with Filters for more information.

Treaty document data is also available via the API, where users can view and download data in a machine-readable format. To learn more about collections in the API and how to get started using the API visit the API GitHub.

Happy Searching!

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *