Congress.gov Enhancements

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

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).