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Politics and Economy:
Tracking Legislation on the Web
Many of our stories feature legislation — new legislation, changing legislation and proposed legislation. You can track their progress, and the many alterations made by legislators on both sides of the aisle, by using the methods below.


Tracking Legislation
  1. The easiest way to track legislation over the Internet is to log onto Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

  2. After accessing Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet, you will discover a search engine that will allow you to track bills introduced during the current and previous sessions of Congress.

  3. The search engine allows two options, you can either search according to the exact bill number or by a word/phase.

    • For a word/phase search, you can either type in portions of the bill's name or a general concept. For instance, you are researching the corporate governance bill, "The Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 (s. 2673)." Either type in portions of the bill name, such as "Public Company Accounting" or a general concept like "accounting."

    • For example, you are tracking the recent Leave No Child Behind Act (s.940/h.r.1990) during this legislative session. Therefore, you would type in the bill number: S. 940 for the Senate version or H.R. 1990 for the House version. It is important to remember each portion of the Congress drafts its own version of the bill.

  4. If you searched according to bill number, the result will be the actual text of the bill. If you searched according to word/phrase, a list of hits will appear. Click on the appropriate one, and the text of the bill will appear.

  5. Bills introduced into Congress are changing all the time. To track the history of a bill in Congress, click on the Bill Summary and Status File.

    Here you will get a brief synopsis of what amendments or changes the bill has gone through. Taking the Sarbanes Corporate Accountability Bill (s. 2673) as an example, one would find that the Senate after passing their version the legislation amended it to an already passed House version of the bill and then passed the amended version of the bill. The new bill is entitled the Corporate and Auditing Accountability, Responsibility, and Transparency Act of 2002 (H.R. 3763).

    For an extended history of the bill's proceedings, click All Bill Summary and Status Info. This will give a chronological history of the bill being researched. This bill has been referred for a Senate vote on July 26, 2002.

  6. Being a concerned citizen, you may want to discover how your Senator or Representative voted on a certain bill. From the Thomas main page, scroll down to the Congressional Record and then click on either the Senate or House Roll Calls. From there, choose the legislative session and then from the list find the particular the bill number you are looking for and click on the Vote option. From here, you will have access to the roll call votes of all members of either the House or Senate.

    Another option is to visit www.congress.org. After accessing www.congress.org, look onto the left side menu. Find the Issues and Action heading, and scroll down to Votes in Congress and click on it. Here one can access Congressional voting records by issue area.

    Other ways to find relevant bill information is visiting the Web sites of nonprofit organizations interested in the same issues. Or simply your representative's Web site. You can find a complete listing of Congressional Web sites and e-mail addresses at the Senate Web Site, and the Locate Representatives page of the House of Representatives site.

    NOTE: You can find out what's going on on the House of Representatives floor by checking in with the Office of the Clerk.


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