Let’s begin with explaining what this website is all about.
Why we do this.
TheWeekinCongress.com is a free, civic effort launched in 2004 with the intent to explain as simply and thoroughly as possible the content of bills debated each week, the cost of the legislation and how your elected officials voted. (More about the website’s history here.)
Bills into Law – What We Report
4000 = 200
On the average as many as 4000 bills are introduced each Congress. Around 1000 make it to the House or Senate floor for debate. Around 200 pass both bodies and are signed into law by the President. We only report bills that have floor action in the House and / or Senate. We stash bills that have become law on this page.
Another Way Bills Can Become Law
Some bills debated in one body are not taken up in the other. Content of those bills can find their way into larger appropriation bills, particularly omnibus spending bills. Omnibus bills contain appropriation language for several government agencies at once and are brought forth mostly at the end of session if Congress has not passed specific spending bills for those agencies for the next fiscal year.
Using This Website, Finding What You are After
The Front Page
First, the Front Page fulfills our mission by offering headlines and brief comments or explanations of all bills debated that week. Following them are links to the more detailed bill reports for each bill. In those reports you will find more bill details and other bill data such as its cost, the vote, regulatory impact, etcetera, and a link to the full text of the bill on congress.gov. Each bill report also offers social media and email links for your convenience.
The Navigation Bar
Just below the Front Page and bill reports banner the navigation bar offers the standard ‘About Us’ links as well as those for contacting Congress and Us, and legal information. You will also find a link to previous editions, our resources page, and a link to New Public Laws. (NPL). On the NPL page you will find links to bills made into law by year and by their category. When you link to any of the bill categories all bills in that category made into law are listed with links to the original bill report.
Use Our Resources
On the navigation bar you will find a link to ‘Resources’. On that page you will find links to numerous newspapers that we refer to particularly when legislation involves foreign policy. In that section you will also find various organizations related to congressional actions and products.
Finding Bills by Category
Also on the navigation bar find ‘Search for bills by Category’ to bring up a list of categories the bills are stored in i.e. Agriculture, Veterans, health & Safety, etcetera. Clicking on a category will bring up all bills reported on this site in order of most recently voted.
The Congressional Budget Office produces a monthly review of the budget called The Monthly Budget Review. (MBR). MBR highlights are reported on the Front Page when they become available. The link on the navigation bar takes you to a list of all MBR’s reported over the past couple of years. Besides reporting on increases and decreases to the budget deficit MBR’s also explain the rises and fall of revenues and spending that result in the deficit increase or decrease.
The Editorial Page
The website is a publication and, as such, has an editorial page where you will find opinion. But it is not partisan as some believe. That confusion is based on this reality: there is always a majority on Capitol Hill and the Majority is responsible for most legislation considered. It also controls whether or not the Minority’s bills make it to debate. So the political party in the majority is responsible for most of what Congress does. When we editorialize about a bill we think has issues we may mention the relevance of that bill to the political stance of the party responsible for it. In a Congress as divided as we have seen since 2000 any bill is likely to represent that political stance. Which political party is behind the bill’s content dictates any reference to political parties in the editorials, not a bias towards one party or the other.
To contact your member of Congress use the Contact link on the Navigation Bar. That will take you off-site to USA.gov, a comprehensive website allowing you to locate and contact Members of Congress and State and Federal government agencies. What we do not do is send a pre-written email to your elected officials regarding your position on a bill. Here’s why; we see that those emails also promote the site it is being sent from and getting a specific response from such bulk emails is far less likely than if you send a well-thought and well-worded email directly to the elected official. There is one rule to sending such an email; keep it brief and to the point when taking a position on a bill or asking a question about the Members vote or the bill content itself.
To contact us you will use the Contact link on the Navigation Bar. While we do not take comments on bills and editorials we would be interested in hearing from you if you are having a problem finding a bill on the website, understanding a bill, or grasping the rules under which the bill is considered. We are not set up for a high volume of questions but usually manage to get back to readers quickly.
What you are part of
First, we thank you for your interest in the legislative process. TheWeekinCongress.com has been providing readers with knowledge for ten years this January 2015 and has been read on three continents. Long-time readers tell us that an hour each week on the site not only shows them how their elected officials are voting but allows them to ask specific questions about a Member’s position or vote. The site is a tool for knowledgeable participation in making the laws we live under; laws that guide us, decide our taxes, spend our money, manage our government’s resources, establish our policies, and dictate our actions around the World.