Library of Congress tests new legislation research site

The Library of Congress on Sept. 19 launched a beta version of Congress.gov, a website created as a successor to Thomas, the familiar, but sometimes challenging, site for researching legislation. The older site was launched in 1995, when the Internet was in its infancy.

The site is an initial beta release of Congress.gov. The new site improves search features compared to Thomas. It allows simultaneous searches across all available legislative years and has the ability to narrow and refine search results. The site also provides links to videos of House and Senate floor proceedings.

As important, the site’s designers have made easier-to-understand page designs for bills and members of Congress profiles. They have also made it responsive to mobile devices.

"The new, more robust platform reaffirms for the 21st century Congress’s vision of a vital legislative information resource for all Americans," said Librarian of Congress James Billington.

For today’s launch, the beta site includes bill status and summary data. It also has bill text from the 107th Congress in 2001 to the present, member profiles from the 93rd Congress in 1973 to the present, and some member profiles from the 80th through the 92nd Congresses, which is from 1947 to 1972.

In the future, subsequent releases will make additional data available, including the Congressional Record, congressional reports, the Congressional Record Index, House and Senate calendars, nominations, and treaties, according to the Library of Congress.

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Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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