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Jenkins’ Research Tip: Using Congress.gov

Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. legislative information, and consists of data compiled and presented by the Library of Congress. The Congress.gov platform was created to replace THOMAS. It will also provide greater search functionality and additional features such as Audio and Visual Coverage of House and Senate proceedings. According to About Congress.gov, THOMAS will eventually be retired when all information has been migrated. Some historic data sets, such as the Congressional Record and bills from 1989-1995, are still in the process of being moved to the new platform.

The home page of Congress.gov allows users to search various types of information by typing keywords into the main search box and making a selection from the drop-down menu. A navigation bar at the top of the screen also links to search and browse options for Legislation, the Congressional Record Daily Digest, Committees, and Members. Users can also Browse by Congressional session and document type. Congress.gov is usually updated the morning after a session adjourns. 

Congress.gov is a work in progress, and new information and enhancements will continue to be added over time. Jenkins’ recent blog post Congress.gov Now Offers Email Alerts explains how to set up email alerts to track new information. The Coverage Dates for Legislative Information chart provides more information about update schedules and start dates for each collection. If you are not sure where something is located, browse the Resources A to Z page for hundreds of links related to Congress. Regular users may also wish to check the Law Librarians of Congress blog In Custodia Legis or sign up for RSS Feeds and Email Subscriptions.

Our Federal Legislative History Resource Guide provides detailed information about locating various types of documents using resources available at Jenkins and on the internet. See specific tabs or check the Using Government Websites tab for descriptions of FDsys, Congress.gov, and THOMAS. Jenkins members can also access Congressional documents through ProQuest Congressional. See our recent blog post for information about ProQuest’s new interface. If you have any questions, call the research department at 215.574.1505, email us at research@jenkinslaw.org, or chat with us.

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