Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Which years are associated with a particular Congress?

The Congresses field value list
associates Congress numbers with years. Each Congress (i.e., 2-year
time-frame) since the 93rd Congress (1973-1974) is a filter and
searchable field in Congress.gov.

Congress.gov Overview

What is Congress.gov?

Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative
information. This modern, integrated system provides accurate, timely,
and complete legislative information to Congress and the public. More About Congress.gov.

For what time periods does Congress.gov have legislative information?

Data are usually updated the morning after a session adjourns. The
start date for bill records is 1973, legislation texts is 1989, and the Congressional Record is 1995. Legislation texts and the Congressional Record for years 1989-1994 Predate Authenticated Digital Publishing.

How can I make suggestions or report problems to Congress.gov?

Use the Give Feedback survey link
located on the top right of every page to access a short user survey.
These surveys are considered carefully and used in plans for future
features or improvements to Congress.gov.

Learn about Congress.gov and the Legislative Process

Can I get Congress.gov training?

Yes. The Law Library of Congress offers webinar and in-person
orientation overviews of Congress.gov. To register, call 202-707-9801,
register online from the Orientation to Legal Research & Congress.gov form, or sign up in person in the Law Library Reading Room (LM201).

See Coverage Dates for Legislative Information for the update schedule and collection coverage dates.

Where can I learn about The Legislative Process?

The Legislative Process is a
set of nine videos that explain the common legislative stages, and
that the process by which a bill becomes law is rarely predictable.

You may prefer to watch a Two Minute Tip video from your computer or mobile device.

Features, Updates and Technology

How do I find out what’s new and get tips on using Congress.gov?

To find out about new features and enhancements to Congress.gov:

How do I find older legislative information that is not available on Congress.gov?

Legislative Documents that Predate Authenticated Digital Publishing provides guidance.

Can I use Congress.gov from my mobile device?

Yes, the responsive, uncluttered design makes it easy to see all the information on a page from a mobile device. Add Congress.gov to Your Home Screen provides step-by-step instructions.

Is there a way I can embed a search box on my website?

For instructions and code go to How to Embed the Search Box on Your Website.

The search forms on Congress.gov don’t respond when I try to run a search. What can I do to troubleshoot this problem?

If you are using Internet Explorer, check to see if the Compatibility
View function is turned on. Compatibility View allows users to “revert”
to a previous version of Internet Explorer, in order for older web
sites to render well in newer versions of the browser. Congress.gov,
which features modern search and browse components, does not function in
Compatibility View.

How do I save searches?

See Saved Search help for instructions on creating personal accounts to save searches.

Where can I find the most recent Congressional Record?

You can view the most recent issue of the Congressional Record from the Congress.gov homepage. Look for the link under the Congress.gov logo at the top of the screen. From the Congressional Record page,
you can browse full-text issues by date, pick a date from the
calendar, or find specific issues using the volume and page finder. To
search the Record, choose Congressional Record from the Main Search Box
drop-down menu and enter a keyword or phrase.

Congressional Record

What is the Congressional Record?

Learn About the Congressional Record.

Where can I find remarks in the Congressional Record spoken by my Member of Congress?

Use Locate Member Remarks in the Congressional Record as your guide.

The Congressional Record is also available as an app for iPad,
iPhone and iPod touch users, with content back to 1995. The app is free
to download via the iTunes store.

How do I find Committee Reports?

Committee reports may be searched in a variety of ways from Congress.gov:

Committees

Where can I find information on committees?

All current committees are listed at Committees of the U.S. Congress. That directory provides access to each committee’s page which serves as a gateway to more information. Learn more About Committee Data.

Legislation

How are bills identified?

There are four types of legislation: bills, joint resolutions,
concurrent resolutions and simple resolutions. Any of these may be
introduced in either chamber. Search Tools Overview is a guide for finding legislation in Congress.gov.

Learn more About Committee Reports.

The full text of a bill I need is not on Congress.gov yet. What can I do?

Check to see if the bill is available on GPO’s govinfo.
Since GPO is the source of bills for Congress.gov, a bill may appear
sooner on GPO. In the current Congress, a bill or resolution normally
will appear under the bill profile Text tab a day or two after it has
been introduced on the floor of the House or Senate. Delays can occur
when there is a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large
bill has to be printed quickly. The system checks for new electronic
copies sent from GPO throughout the day and begins the update process
as soon as a bill or resolution is received.

Why are there different versions of bills?

Legislation may be changed or amended as it makes its way through
the legislative process. You will sometimes see different bill text
versions in the Text tab of a bill record. A table defining each of the
possible bill text versions can be found on the GPO website: Definitions of Common Versions of Bills.

What is the difference between policy area terms and legislative subject terms?

Legislative analysts from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) closely examine the content of each bill and resolution to assign Policy Area Terms and Legislative Subject Terms.
Each measure is assigned only one of 32 possible Policy Area terms.
There is no limit to the number of legislative subject terms that may
be assigned. Assignment of a Policy Area term is made when a new
measure is added to Congress.gov, while it may take longer to add
legislative subject terms. If a measure is revised as it moves through
the legislative process, additional subject terms may be assigned.
Amendments are not assigned policy area or subject terms.

Please note that when both the House and Senate pass or adopt
legislation containing the same legislative text, an ENR measure is
created and made available online. The paper version (the official
document of record) is presented to the President for his signature. The
time between when the last chamber agreed to the legislation and the
ENR version is made available at GPO’s govinfo
is variable and largely depends on the size of the legislation. Larger
documents take longer to prepare. The time between when the ENR is
available and additional action steps by the President are made
available is also variable and depends on the actions taken by the
President. More information on Presidential actions and some of the
timeframes can be found in “How Our Laws are Made”.

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Why has the short title not yet been added to a bill?

Short titles are manually added to bill records after the bill text has been published and is available on govinfo.
The bill’s official title will display until the bill text is
available and the short title can be verified. The Congress.gov
glossary provides more information about short titles.

The Legislative Indexing Vocabulary (LIV)
is an older CRS thesaurus that was discontinued in 2008. For more
information on using terms from all three subject vocabularies to
enhance Congress.gov research, see Find Bills by Subject and Policy Area.

Conference reports are published in the Congressional Record and also in the congressional report document series. They may be available on House committee websites, especially the House Committee on Rules site or on the House Text of Bills to be Considered on the House Floor site before they are published in the Congressional Record.

Where do I find Conference Reports?

Conference reports published since 1995 are available from Congress.gov.

THOMAS Retirement

When was THOMAS retired?

THOMAS was retired on July 5, 2016.

Why doesn’t the bill number in my On the House Floor Today or On the Senate Floor Today email link to the bill?

Congress.gov is updated early each morning with bills introduced on
the previous day. So if a bill is considered on the floor on the same
day it is introduced, it will be listed in your On the Floor email that
day but will not be available on Congress.gov until the next day. You
can find the bill when it is available by searching on the bill number.

Thomas.loc.gov and www.thomas.gov direct visitors to Congress.gov.

All THOMAS data was made available from Congress.gov prior to the
retirement of THOMAS. The last two data transferred from THOMAS to
Congress.gov in June 2016. Those data sets are: Congressional Record
daily edition issues for 1989-1994 and Senate Executive and Other
Communications for 1979-1986. Coverage Dates for Legislative Information is a directory of Congress.gov collections and data sets.

Congress.gov provides modern functionality, including:

Why was THOMAS replaced?

THOMAS launched in the mid-1990s using technology that was no longer
capable of providing new functionality users have come to expect in a
website. The Congress.gov platform enhances access through features such
as videos explaining the legislative process, compatibility with
mobile devices, and a user-friendly presentation.

Update THOMAS links to legislation, the Congressional Record, and other pages to use Congress.gov URL patterns.

  • Single search across all collections and all dates
  • Meaningful, persistent URLs
  • Filtered search results

What about THOMAS links that I have saved?

THOMAS URLs are redirected to Congress.gov, but updating your links is a recommended best practice.

Handles – Links formatted like http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.114hr4330 redirect to links formatted like https://congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4330.

The chart below provides Congress.gov URLs for popular THOMAS pages. Contact us if you need help finding the new URL for other pages.

Any THOMAS URLs that are not redirected to a specific page will go to the Congress.gov homepage.

Permalinks – Links formatted like http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c114:S.55.IS:/ will redirect to links formatted like https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/55/text/IS.

What about links on my website that run a committee activity search on THOMAS?

We suggest that you replace these links with the URL of the
committee’s Congress.gov page. If you do not change your search links,
they will redirect to the Congress.gov homepage.

What about links on my website that run a sponsor/cosponsor search on THOMAS?

We suggest that you replace this type of link with the URL of the
member’s Congress.gov page. The table below shows popular examples. If
you do not change your search links, they will redirect to the
Congress.gov homepage.

What about websites that run a search within an iFrame?

We suggest that you replace the iFrame with the URL of the member’s Congress.gov page. The table below shows popular examples.

EXAMPLES
https://www.congress.gov/committee/house-small-business/hssm00
https://www.congress.gov/committee/senate-health-education-labor-and-pensions/sshr00

The Bill Status data set includes all data from the existing Bill Summaries data set, plus bill status data. The Congressional Bills bulk data set is referenced by Bill Status data. Consult the Bill Status XML Bulk Data user guide for additional information.

I have been screen scraping THOMAS, what are my options now?

Congress.gov Bill Status data is available from GPO’s govinfo bulk data repository. Learn more about Congress.gov XML Bulk Data.

What about the THOMAS search box embedded on my website?

For instructions and code go to How to Embed the Search Box on Your Website.

Additional XML information is available through the following sources:

Is an archive of the THOMAS site available?

Yes, at THOMAS web archive.
The archive is a record, like a snapshot, that shows the site as it was
in 2013 and earlier. Since 2012, development efforts shifted from
THOMAS to Congresss.gov. An archive does not provide search
functionality nor current data. It does provide a historical record of
the look and feel of the site.

If you do not change your embedded search box, THOMAS searches will go to the Congress.gov homepage.

Help guides, documentation, and finding aids have also been migrated to Congress.gov.

Congress.gov provides comparable and improved functionality. Prior to
THOMAS retirement all data was made available from Congress.gov. The
last two data sets transferred from THOMAS to Congress.gov in June
2016. Those data sets are: Congressional Record daily edition issues for 1989-1994 and Senate Executive and Other Communications for 1979-1986. Coverage Dates for Legislative Information is a directory of Congress.gov collections and data sets.

The project to replace THOMAS with Congress.gov became available for public interaction in September 2012. Learn more About Congress.gov.

About the author: Danny Skelly For US Senate Colorado

Danny Skelly for US Senate in the State of Colorado.
I will legislate using common sense and facts not emotional knee jerk reactions and mob rule at the moment.

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