Congress.gov Enhancements

Below is a timeline of releases that incorporated new content and improved features to Congress.gov.

June 2016

New feature – Advanced Search Guided Form:

  • Advanced Search is now a guided form with help specific to legislative research
  • Query Builder is the new name for the old Advanced Search
  • New Advanced Search provides links to Query Builder and Command Line search

Enhancement – Legislation:

  • Roll Call Votes total of House and Senate votes on bill overviews
  • Roll Call Votes facet on the Actions tab
  • Public Laws browse report includes TXT | PDF links

Enhancement – Congressional Record: 

  • Web-friendly Daily Digest
  • Congressional Record archive for 1989-1994 (101-103rd Congresses) added

Enhancement – Highlighting: 

  • Amendments, bill texts, related bills, subjects, and titles have highlighting
  • Phrase highlighting is supported

Enhancement – Saved Search:
o    Quick Search forms include Save Search links

Enhancement – Browse: 

  • House, Senate, and executive committee reports browse lists
  • New “Nominations by Number” browse lists

New feature – Command Line Search:

  • The ability to turn off stemming and case variants is now supported for the allBillTitles field

New Historic data – Senate Executive Communications:

  • Senate Executive Communications for 1979-1986 (96-99th Congresses)

New feature – RSS Feed:

  • An RSS Feed is now available that will update subscribers each time the most current appropriation table is updated

 

 

April 2016

New feature – Quick Search for more data collections:

  • Congressional Record
  • Committee Reports
  • Nominations
  • Treaty Documents
  • Communications to the Senate

New feature – RSS Feeds:

  • RSS feeds similar to those in THOMAS have been added:
    • Most Viewed Bills
    • Search Tips
    • House Floor Today
    • Senate Floor Today
    • Bills Presented to the President

New feature – Word variants and case sensitivity:

  • Word variant controls allow you to find ‘parking’ without false hits for ‘parks’
  • Case sensitivity controls allow you to find ‘TIGER’ without false hits for ‘tiger’
  • Quick search and Command Line support word variants and case sensitivity

Enhancement – Nominations links to hearings:

  • Nominations Actions link to hearings

Enhancement – New Command Line Search Fields:

  • Find legislation by dates of action with ‘actionDateStr’
  • Find cosponsorships by date with ‘cosponsorDateStr’

December 2015

New feature – Legislation Quick Search:

  • Search Bill Status (metadata 1973-present), with or without Bill Text (full text 1993-present), collection by any combination of Congresses, sponsor and/or cosponsor, committee, legislative action (curated searches), and keywords.
  • Streamlined search results list allows user to:
    • Display or hide the tracker
    • Display or hide the facets
  • Bill detail page opens for single item search results, bypassing results list display

New feature – Congressional Record Index:

  • Search the Congressional Record Index (CRI) 1995-present (beginning with the 104th Congress)
    • Search CRI for terms, only
    • Search CRI for terms plus text of annotated entries
  • Use the A-to-Z ribbon to browse the CRI
  • CRI annotated entries link to referenced CR pages and bill detail pages

Enhancements – Legislation:

  • 'Bill History in the Congressional Record' links from Actions tab features 'History of Bills' entries from CRI
  • Cosponsors tab
    • Sponsor name displays on the cosponsor tab
    • Statistics for current, original, and withdrawn cosponsors display
  • Command Line search form supports Date of Major Action search using Major Action Codes
  • 'Action on Legislation - Browse by Date' now includes amendments. This browse was previously titled 'Bills with Chamber Action (Daily Digest)'
  • Search and browse historic bill texts has been added to the existing collection. New texts are from 1989-1992 (101st and 102nd Congresses)

Enhancements – User Experience:

  • Spanish-language legislative process graphic
  • U.S. States and Territories interactive finding aid map

October 2015

New feature – Senate Executive Communications:

  • Included in "All Sources" searches
  • Collection landing page supports keyword search of Executive Communications
    • Results sets can be limited by these facets:
      • Congress
      • Communication Type (Petitions or Memorials, Presidential Messages, Executive Communications)
      • Committee
  • Searchable from Advanced Search
  • Senate committee profile pages include Executive Communications referred to them

Enhancements – New Browse Lists:

  • Legislative Subject Terms
  • Popular and Short Titles

Enhancements – User Experience:

  • Sorting options for all collections
  • Results lists feature direct links to 'All Actions' for Legislation, Nominations, and Treaty Documents
  • Two Minute tip videos have been added to orient users to
    • Create alerts
    • Use search terms and facets
  • Legislative Action searches (on Advanced Search) are categorized by legislative process stages:
    • Introduction and Referral
    • Committee Consideration
    • Floor Consideration
    • Amendment Actions
    • Roll Call Votes
    • Resolving Differences
    • To President
    • Became Law
    • Veto Consideration
  • Advanced Search now supports proximity searches
  • Command Line search fields for:
    • Law texts
    • Bill Text Version types
    • House and Senate calendar numbers
  • Nominations
    • Nominations Type facet features checkbox and "select only" options
    • "Date Received from President" added to the results display
    • "Major Actions" are now referred to as "Actions Overview"

July 2015

Enhancements – User Experience:

  • Facets
    • Political party and Congressional Record section facets allow the user to multi-select
  • Search
    • Users may use next/previous arrows to navigate through search results
    • Citation pattern matching has been adjusted
    • Middle name and nickname are now supported in cosponsor/sponsor fields

  • Advanced Search
    • It is now possible to edit the URL with a parameter that will keep the search form open
    • A preset date query is now supported, e.g., “yesterday”

  • Detail / Profile pages
    • Search within results is available on member and committee profile pages

  • Help/About pages
    • The committee field value list has been adjusted
    • The bioguide field value list has been adjusted

  • Listen
    • Listen will read aloud the text of the bill summary page
    • The user can also highlight portions of the text to be read by Listen

Enhancements – Accounts / Alerts / Saved Searches:

  • The following changes were based on user feedback:
    • The bill title has been added to bill and member alerts
    • Members alerts are triggered by amendment cosponsorship/sponsorship

Enhancements – Browse:

  • Adjustments have been made to the treatment of private laws
  • Sort has been added to the recently received text browse report

Enhancement – Appropriation Tables:

  • Added tables for prior years in the new appropriations table format that debuted in March of 2015

May 2015

Enhancement - Resources:

  • Added the Federalist Papers

Enhancement - Searching:

  • Enhancements to searching
    • Congress.gov now supports the following:
      • Proximity search for phrases
      • Smart quotes in search strings
      • Diacritics in search strings
      • Additional citation patterns and fixes to citation patterns Highlighting within bill actions
      • Improvements to highlighting

Enhancement – Command Line Search:

  • Command Line / Advanced Search
    • Additional fields
      • Added/updated legislative command line fields
      • Added/updated nomination command line fields
      • New count-based command line fields
      • Added/updated fields in the advanced search form
      • Adjusted allBillTitles field to include amendment purpose and description
      • Now supports treatyStatus on command line
    • Type ahead available on sponsor/cosponsor field
    • Now retains user entry in text boxes when the field selection changes

Enhancement – Search Results:

  • Search Results
    • Numbers the search results
    • Added “(private legislation)” in search results

Enhancement – Help & About Pages:

  • Enhancements have been made to the Help/About pages
    • Provided a Field Value List page for Bioguide IDs
    • Provided a Field Value List page for committee IDs

Enhancement - Alerts:

  • Changes have been made to the alert emails based on user feedback
    • The Congress.gov logo now links to the homepage
    • Changed the bill alert email: The sort triggers in tab order
    • Changed the bill alert email: Changed the cosponsors link to go to reverse chronological cosponsor list
    • Changed the member alert email: Bills are sorted by number  

Enhancement - Browse:

  • Law Listing Report
  • Recently Added Bill Text Report
  • Bill by Request Report
  • Private Bills Report
  • Enhancements to the existing browse reports

Enhancement – Appropriation Tables:

  • Added tables for prior years in the new appropriations table format that debuted in March of 2015

Enhancement – Accessibility:

  • Adjusted system alert messages
  • Tabs are displayed inside the dropdown on mobile devices
  • Suppressed the display of breadcrumbs for a cleaner presentation on mobile devices

March 2015

New Feature - Treaties:

Treaty documents are available on Congress.gov for all treaties submitted to the Senate since the 94th Congress (1975-1976). Treaties submitted prior to the 94th Congress are included if they were pending in 1975. Treaty documents include the following features:

  • Support for global search of treaties:
    • Text search via resolution text, treaty doc text, treaty topic, originating organization, countries, TIAS number, citation (including old treaty number), and index terms
    • Supports cross-data-source facet: Congress
    • Supports treaty-specific facets: Status of Treaty Document, Treaty Topic
  • The treaty detail page includes a detailed overview, list of Senate actions, and tabs for: resolution of ratification; treaty document; amendments; additional fields.
  • The treaties landing page, includes a treaty number search, links to relevant internal and external pages, and a faceted result set.
  • A link to treaties has been added to the homepage.
  • Treaties have been added to the activity scope of the committee profile page (this feature only affects Senate Foreign Service committee).
  • Treaties have been added to overview box for amendments that amend treaties.

New Feature - Executive Reports:

  • Executive Reports, dating from 1995-present, have been added to the scope of the existing Committee Reports functionality. 
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee profile will feature treaties, in addition to legislation and nominations.

Enhancement - Advanced Search:

  • The following fields have been added:
    • Related bills
    • Subjects
    • Private legislation (in the command line)
    • Congress (for the Congressional Record collection)
    • Date range searches for “Latest Action” of nominations and treaties
  • Treaty fields
  • An “Is all of” operator has been added to the following fields:
    • Action - Status of Legislation
    • Committee – House
    • Committee – Senate
  • The advanced search form has been widened.
  • The advanced search form interface supports curated “popular” legislative action searches that can be selected from a menu.
  • Advanced search and command line search results can be refined with facets.

Enhancement - Browse:

  • New reports/tables are available, allowing the user to browse:
    • Bills with Chamber Action
    • Major Actions on Bills and Amendments
    • Actions by Committees and Subcommittees

Enhancement - Bills are in XML as the default display option in the Text tab of bill detail page:

  • XML will display as the default in Text tab of the bill detail page.

Enhancement - Current information about activity on the House and Senate Floor is now displayed on the homepage:

  • Congress.gov displays current Congressional activity on the homepage, including current-day bill, nomination, and treaty record links for items considered by the House and Senate.
  • The start and end time of next and previous House and Senate daily chamber sessions will display on the homepage.

Enhancement - Member Profiles:

  • URLS now display BioGuide IDs.

Enhancement - Appropriations Table:

  • Per user feedback, the appropriation tables have been revised and now include additional fields, such as subcommittee information.

September 2014

New feature – Congress.gov Resources

  • Congress.gov Resources enhances the accessibility and comprehension of Congress.gov content through a variety of information curated by information professionals at the Library of Congress.
  • The new section features enhanced access to the top-ten most viewed bills, as well as an archive.

New Feature - House Committee Hearing Videos

  • The House Committee video live streams and archives are now available in Congress.gov. They may be accessed through a landing page and through Committee profile pages.

Improvement – Advanced Search:

  • The new advanced search adds support for a number of additional fields, including nominations, Congressional Record, and member. Additional legislative fields are also supported.
  • The bioguide ID available when searching member fields and the committee ID is now supported when searching committee fields.
  • Advanced search now defaults to two open advanced search “lines.”
  • A search of legislation now defaults to the current Congress.

Improvement – Browse:

  • The Browse page has been restructured.
  • You may now search across all Congresses in Browse.
  • New reports and tables are available to display:
    • Bill by Sponsor/Cosponsor
    • Days in Session Calendar
    • Roll Call Votes

Miscellaneous Improvements:

  • The bill type is now a multi-select facet.
  • A “view all” version of the bill detail page is available.
  • Member profile page urls support the bioguide ID.
  • Committee profile pages include a Committee facet.

June 2014

This release adds many new features and enhancements to existing features. The new features include: nominations, individual accounts, saved searches, and the ability to search the Congressional Record by speaker.

New feature - Nominations
Nominations have been added to the site.

  • Supports cross-data-source facets Congress, Senate Committee;
  • Supports nominations-specific facets nomination type, is-privileged, nomination status, nominee state
  • Nomination detail page functionality supports:
    • Variants for single nominee, multiple nominees, single position, multiple position, foreign service nominations, split nominations, nominations with very long lists of nominees;
    • Action display in the same template as bill actions;
    • Inner facets for nominee lists; nominee state, position, division.
  • A nomination landing page has been added.
  • Updates have been made to the home page to support nominations.
  • Nominations have been added to the activity scope of the committee profile pages.

New feature - Accounts
Optional accounts are now available. Accounts facilitate access to customizable features, such as saved searches. The accounts functionality allows a user to:

  • Sign up for an account using an email address, including email confirmation procedures.
  • Sign in using email address and user-created password.

New feature - Saved Searches

  • Saved searches allow the user to save a search from the search results page. This will be available from a basic faceted/text search, from the advanced search interface, and from the command line search interface.
  • A "Saved Searches" page allows the user to modify the title/description of a search, run a saved search, or remove a saved search.

New feature - Congressional Record Speaker Element

  • A new facet has been added to the Congressional Record data source. This facet will behave similarly to the existing legislative Cosponsor facet.
  • A search link has been added to Member profile page which will return a list of all Congressional Record articles in which this member was speaking.

Improvements

  • Improved sorting of global search results: added lower level support to sort-by-date choices; added choice to sort by law number. Added number sorts to browse lists.
  • "About" pages for Legislation, Committees, Committee Reports, Members, and Nominations. This new content is presented along with pre-existing "About" content into a new "About" section. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page has also been added. Pages have been added to list field values for Congresses, major action codes, policy areas, and legislative subject terms.
  • Added committee referral and committee reports to search results and bill detail page overview.
  • Small improvements have been made to the bill detail page: improved display of titles; ordered columns on committee tab to match actions tab; adjusted display order of committee reports; and added sort to amendment tab.
  • For committee names that have changed, showed the committee name at the time of the bill/amendment.
  • Adjusted tracker for concurrent resolutions with resolving differences step.

February 2014

This release focuses on three new features - Advanced Search, Browse, and Appropriations Tables, 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-one 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.

New feature - Appropriations Table
Appropriations are listed by Fiscal Year in a four column table that includes legislation, House Passage, Senate Passage, and Conference Approval.

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)
  • Added Check All / Uncheck All functionality to multi-select facets.

December 2013

This release added bill summary and status (BSS) data for the 93rd-102nd Congresses for bills, and for the 97th-102nd Congresses for amendments. The Legislation Collection now dates from 1973 forward.

November 2013

This release centered on the transition of THOMAS to Congress.gov. The main URLS for THOMAS ( http://www.thomas.gov ,http://thomas.gov and http://thomas.loc.gov ) were redirected to Congress.gov ( http://beta.congress.gov ). THOMAS remains fully operational and available at the following URL: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php. These changes will remain in effect until late 2014, when the transition is completed and THOMAS is scheduled to be retired.

September 2013

The focus of this release is on improvements to the web interface as well as infrastructure and operations.

Improvements - Search

  • Global search menu pull down is defaulted to Current Legislation with other drop down group options for current legislation, all legislation, all sources, and specific sources (Members, Congressional Record, Committee Reports).
  • Default facet selections now include: Legislation and the Current Congress.
  • Congress facet is now multi-select.
  • Improved labeling of object types in search results.
  • Improved display of search result summary.
  • Phrase searching has been improved.

Improvements - Legislation

  • Committee reports are now linked from the Committees tab of the legislative detail page.
  • Text of a Congressional Record article displays in amendment text tab when result is only one matching article (previously it resulted in list format).
  • "In Committee" and "No Value" committee activities are now suppressed on the Committees tab of the legislative detail page.
  • Type of legislation label now included on legislative detail page.
  • Reduced the size of the bill overview box on the legislative detail page.
  • Improved display of timestamps on Actions tab.

Improvements - Committees

  • Committee landing page now includes committees other than standing committees, and provides links to committee profile pages for Special and Select committees.
  • Committee profile pages for Senate committees now include a link to a page containing membership and subcommittee lists.

General improvements to the site (among others)

  • Added "Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation" to the U.S. Founding Documents.
  • Added downloadable legislative process video image.
  • Improved styling of leadership carousel on home page.
  • State and party are now listed for Senators in the leadership carousel on home page.

July 2013

Committee Reports (New)

  • Committee Reports were added and date back to 1995 with the beginning of the 104th Congress.
  • Committee Reports are available for global search with facets for Congress, Chamber, and Committee.
  • A Committee Reports landing page provides an overview section with a report-lookup tool sorted by report type and citation number.
  • The search result listing appears in the lower half of the landing page and offers faceted searching options targeted to Committee Reports, including a report type facet, and a conference report facet.
  • Committee Report detail pages display single and multi-part reports with sidebars that include links to related reports, a link to the Committee Reports landing page, and a list of other bills referenced in the report.
  • Navigational display option is available for multiple-part reports and provides links to PDF versions of the report.

NOTE: Executive reports are not included in this release but will appear when treaty data is imported in a future release.

Committee Pages (New)

  • A new Standing Committees landing page is available, listing general information about standing committees.
  • All House and Senate standing committees for the current Congress are available with links to specific Committee pages.
  • Each standing committee page includes an overview section which lists legislation recently considered by the committee, as well as links to meeting schedules, live video (House committees only), and the official committee website.
  • A search result listing in the lower half of the page provides faceted searching options targeted to legislation and reports associated with the relevant committee.

Enhancements to the Legislative and Amendment Detail Pages

  • Timestamps are now displayed for those actions for which we receive a timestamp from the chamber.
  • Bill summary text now includes embedded links.
  • The listing of Committee Report articles on the text tab of the amendment detail page was enhanced to more precisely guide the user to the correct page in the Congressional Record on which the amendment text appears.
  • Data missing messages have been tweaked on the amendment detail page to better reflect the difference between Senate and House amendment procedures. The title of the bill being amended has been added to the overview. The amendments-to-this-amendment tab no longer displays when there are zero results for this tab.

Enhancements to the Congressional Record pages

  • Congressional Record back data (1995-2000) was loaded.
  • Embedded links to the Congressional Record (via page and page range links) are available and complete; this process began with the April release and improvements made during this release completed the task.
  • Inactive dates are no longer clickable in the Congressional Record year/page selector.

General improvements to the site (among others)

  • Sorting of search results is available; the results can be sorted by date, document number, or title.
  • Search within results is available, allowing users the ability to add multiple search terms to an already faceted result set.
  • Limited boolean and field search is available through the global search box.
  • Legislative glossary is now linked from the header.

April 2013

Legislative and amendment detail pages

  • All legislative action steps are included on the Actions tab which offers three levels of details - major actions; all actions; all actions including floor amendment actions.
  • While viewing all actions, there are several beneficial facets; and improved presentation of action type, actor, and action text.
  • A new tab on the amendment detail page displays the articles that appear within the Congressional Record on which the amendment text was published.
  • Congressional Record article references from within action text and notes are linked to a display of the articles on that page (or page range) within the Record.
  • Committees on the Committees tab are sorted in order of referral.
  • Related bill descriptions have been improved, and related bills are sorted by bill type and number.

Enhancements to the Congressional Record pages

  • Congressional Record coverage has expanded to include the 107th Congress (2001) going forward.
  • There is a new browse-by-date page which provides links to all issues of the Record by date within a user-friendly expandable/collapsible navigational tool.
  • Daily Digest pages can be accessed via the year/page selector.
  • The Daily Digest tab includes links to legislative and amendment detail pages, roll call votes, and pages in the Congressional Record.
  • A URL shortcut is supported for the year/page selector.

General improvements to the site

  • Captions have been added to the legislative process videos.

January 2013

On January 23, 2013 the Congressional Record, published by the Government Printing Office (GPO), and cost-estimate reports from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) were launched to supplement bills, bill summaries, Member profiles and legislative history information already available on the site.

At launch, the Congressional Record from the 112th Congress is available, as well as records from the beginning of the 113th Congress and going forward. The Congressional Record from previous Congresses going back to 1994 will be added during future updates. Highlights include:

Congressional Record

  • A Congressional Record landing page that will default to the most recent available issue;
  • A persistent navigation header that will display details about the currently displayed issue, including link to PDF for the full issue;
  • Ability to navigate the Record via date selection or year/volume and page;
  • A webpage displaying one issue of the Record, including tabs for each of the sections available for that issue: Daily Digest, House, Senate, Extensions of Remarks;
  • A tabbed view of each section of an issue of the Record, listing all articles within that section;
  • Detailed viewing of an article, including a link to the PDF for the page(s) containing the article;
  • Page view - listing all articles that begin on a particular page; and
  • Page range view - listing all articles that begin on a specific range of pages.

CBO Cost Estimates

All bills from 2001 through the present that have a CBO Cost Estimate will now include a "CBO Cost Estimate" link to the right of the Overview section on the legislative detail page. This will open a pop-up that displays a list of associated CBO Cost Estimates, with a link to the CBO page displaying that report.

November 2012

Highlights of minor updates include:

  • Member profiles search order tuning;
  • Clarification of "Party history" for Members who have changed party;
  • Leadership designations on Member profile pages where appropriate;
  • Fine-tune display of website and contact information for current Members;
  • Retention of user source selection when searching on legislation or Member landing pages;
  • Improvement of presentation of "more" page for sponsor/cosponsor; and
  • Release of three additional legislative process videos - Introduction and Referral of Bills, Committee Consideration, and Calendar and Scheduling.

October 2012

Minor updates were made to the system that included:

  • A new citation normalizing filter that recognizes variants of citations for bill number searching (e.g., H.R.1, HR1, H.R. 1, HR 1)
  • The addition of a "status of amendment" facet to the amendment tabs on legislative and amendment detail pages
  • Inclusion of glossary term links in the transcripts for all legislative process videos
  • Introducing Congress.gov (external link) trailer published.

September 2012

The initial launch included bill status and summary, as well as bill text files from the 107th Congress (2001) to the present, member profiles from the 93rd Congress (1973) to the present, and some member profiles from the 80th through the 92nd Congresses (1947 to 1972).