- Identify your member of Congress using one of the following:
- Find Your Representatives [http://www.house.gov/] By typing in a zip code (either the 5- or 9-digit version) a representative to Congress can be identified for a particular district. In some cases, a 5-digit zip code may cover parts of several districts, so the U.S. Postal Service’s ZIP+4 Service is conveniently linked to help identify the 9-digit code for a stated address.
- Project Vote-Smart [http://www.vote-smart.org/] Similar format to above; form is located at bottom of introductory page at this site.
- To identify recent legislation that was brought to the floor of the House and/or Senate as well as key players you might try:
- CQ Weekly Report 1983+ [Mugar Ref XJK 1 F46 1964+; also Law Annex KF 49 C645]
- CQ Researcher (great for current controversial issues)
- CNN allpolitics.com [http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/index.html]
- National Journal [JK 1 N28]; also L/N Academic Universe
- Washington Post [Permanent Reserve; micro]; also in L/N Academic Universe
L/N Academic Universe allows you to search by legislator or topic. You can also find information on public opinion.
- Thomas [http://thomas.loc.gov] Search bills by topic, bill number, or title. Search through and read the text of the Congressional Record for the 104th, 105th, and 106th Congresses. Search and find committee reports by topic or committee name.
- House [http://www.house.gov]
- Senate [http://www.senate.gov]
- Library of Congress [http://www.loc.gov]
- *ProQuest Congressional [http://web.lexis-nexis.com/congcomp/]
- GPO Access [http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aaces004.html]
The CIS index to publications of the United States Congress [Mugar Reference X Z 1249 F70] abstracts all congressional hearings and prints, arranged by committees; yearly bound volumes index publications by subject, document numbers, bill title, and names of persons involved. The Legislative History volume tracks the movement of a bill through Congress. Mugar Memorial Library has the full-text of these publications on microfiche in cabinets in the Current Periodicals Area, arranged by CIS document number. When you find the hearing or committee print you want, also note its Superintendent of Documents (Sudoc) call number (number beginning Y4). The Boston Public Library is our local depository library for Government documents, and arranges its paper collection by Sudoc number.
For hearings after 1970 use either the printed CIS Index (above), Congressional Masterfile II on CD-ROM (Pappas Law Library) or Congressional Universe. For hearings prior to 1970, use CIS US congressional committee prints index : from the earliest publications through 1969 [Mugar Reference X Z1223.Z7 C66]. We do not, however, have full-text of these items.
- Congressional committee hearings contain the testimony of government officials and private individuals invited to appear before the committee to argue for or against passage of a bill. Hearings are used to find the range of views and interest groups associated with a bill. Most, but not all, hearings are printed.
- Committee Printsaid Members of Congress in their consideration of a bill by providing background information, and are indexed in the same way as hearings.
- Committee Reports from committees to the full House or Senate explain the purpose of the bill, review past Congressional actions on the subject, and set forth the reasons the bill should be enacted. They also specify the changes in the existing law made by the bill, and the bill’s expected effects on the Federal budget and the national economy. Sometimes there are minority or supplemental reports presenting the views of committee members who differ with the majority.
Some of the committee prints are studies conducted by the Congressional Research Service.
- Most (but not all) of these reports have been acquired on microfilm by the Pappas Law Library, and are listed by study title in our online catalog. The location will be the Law Annex , with a call number and reel number given.
- A small percentage are available through the web, as provided by the following organizations and groups:
- Senate Rules Committee
- House Rules Committee
- Committee for the National Institute on the Environment
- George Washington University
- Copies of Congressional Research Reports are available commercially through Penny Hill Press.
A comprehensive listing of hearings, prints and publications printed by the Senate, 1983 to the present, entitled U.S. Senate Bibliographies, is maintained by the North Caroline State University Libraries.
Reports are identified by Congress and report number. To find a report number use any of the following printed sources.
- Calendar of the House of Representatives and History of Legislation.
- CIS Index
- Index to the Congressional Record
- House and Senate Journals
The Congressional Record is a daily record of speeches given on the floors of the House and Senate. The Congressional Record can also be accessed from Congressional Universe. Note: the CRFilter is a web-based information filter for the Congressional Record text provided as a free service of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It allows you to choose subject parameters, and on subsequent visits to the site have lists prepared of action taken in the intervening time period relevant to the subject. Laws
An Act signed by the President becomes a law. Laws are published initially as separate pamphlets called slip laws and at the end of each session are codified into the U.S. Code.
- Roper Center Public Opinion Archive (iPoll)
- Harris Vault
- The Gallup Poll Current year news releases.
- Polling Report From the website: “An independent, nonpartisan resource on trends in American public opinion.”
- The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Polls on politics, the media and American values back to 1995.
Tracking a Representative
Many sources listed above will help; sites like Thomas, L/N Academic Universe (Government & Legislative News), and allpolitics.com allow you to type in a legislator’s name. In addition, you might look at:
- Project Vote-Smart [http://www.vote-smart.com]
- Candidates & Elected Officials provides “A wealth of facts on your political leaders, including biographies and addresses, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances, evaluations by special interests.”
- CongressTrack is described as “A citizen’s toolkit for tracking Congress, including status of legislation, members & committees, sponsors, voting records, clear descriptions, full text, and weekly floor schedules.”
PACs and Finances
- Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal A database of FEC statistics.
- The Center for Responsive Politics – opensecrets.org A non-partisan, non-profit research group that specializes in the study of Congress and particularly the role that money plays in its elections and actions.