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About the Data on GovTrack.us

GovTrack gets its information from a variety of sources, including official government data as well as community data repositories. Here are the data sources we use and suggestions for how you can get it too.

In 2005, we were the first to make U.S. federal legislative information comprehensively available in an open, structured data format for researchers, journalists, other public interest projects, and anyone to freely reuse for any purpose. Our data was the basis for dozens of other open government projects, including major projects of the Sunlight Foundation and investigative stories at major news publications, and continued until 2017, when the U.S. Congress began publishing open, structured data itself. You can read about our 15-year campaign to open up Congress’s data.

Current Information
(115th Congress)
Members of Congress

Biographical information and committee assignments for current and former Members of Congress are from the congress-legislators project, a community repository we originally developed and help maintain.

Photos are sourced from various locations, including the GPO Guide to House and Senate Members, and credited on individual legislator pages.

To get the data it’s best to use the congress-legislators project, but you can also get raw Member data in XML from the House and Senate.

Also see How To Build an App to Call/Write Congress and Creating congressional district maps with Mapbox which explain how to find someone’s congressional district and how to use that to help them contact their representative or senator.

Bill Status

The status of pending legislation is retreived daily from the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) Federal Digital System (FDsys) Bill Status XML Bulk Data. Legislative activity typically appears the next business day. We use the open source congress project to automate and simplify retrieving the data.

The ProPublica Congress API is the only public API for legislative information. The API was formerly the Sunlight Foundation Congress API and traces its history to our legislative data offerings back in 2010.

Prognosis scores (predictions of enactment) are from Skopos Labs.

Bill Summaries We display several sorts of bill summaries, including many that we write ourselves. Other summaries are from the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service (the same summaries on Congress.gov; we get them the same way we get bill status, see above) and the House Republican Conference.
Votes

Roll call votes are retrieved from the Senate and House websites in XML format. We update our vote data roughly hourly. We use the open source congress project to automate and simplify retrieving the data.

Missed and mistaken vote explanations are from ProPublica.

Bill Text The text of legislation is retrieved from GPO.gov/FDSys in PDF, XML, and plain text formats. We update bill text daily, but text only becomes available typically 1-3 business days after major action on the bill. We use the open source congress project to automate and simplify retrieving the data, congressxml to render the XML as HTML, and linkify-citations to hyperlink legal citations in bill text.
What’s Coming Up Our list of bills coming up is from the Senate website and Docs.House.Gov. The committee meetings calendar is from the Senate website and Docs.House.Gov. Updated daily. All offer XML data.
District Maps Congressional district boundaries on the maps are from the U.S. Census Bureau and maps are courtesy of Mapbox (see how we do it).
2015-2016
(114th Congress)
Bill Status From GPO.gov/FDSys via the congress project (see above).
Votes From the Senate and House websites (see above).
Bill Text From GPO.gov/FDSys (see above).
1989-2014
(101st-113th Congresses)
Bill Status Historical bill status information was obtained from the old THOMAS.gov website prior to its shutdown in 2016. This information is no longer available anywhere in a structured data format, but contact us if you are interested in using our historical bill status data.
Votes From the Senate and House websites (see above). (Except House votes in 1989 (101st Congress, 1st Session), which are from the Rosenthal & Poole data, see below.)
Bill Text Bill text from about 2012 forward is from GPO.gov/FDSys (see above). For bills from 1989 through about 2012, we display archived HTML text retreived from THOMAS.gov prior to THOMAS.gov’s shutdown in 2016 — although PDFs of bills exist for this time period from GPO.gov/FDSys, the rich text data that we display is no longer available anywhere but you can contact us if you are interested in using ours. (We also display Cato Institute Deepbills for the 113th Congress.)
1973-1988
(93rd-100th Congresses)
Bill Status From THOMAS.gov (see above).
Bill Text We only display bill text in this time period for bills that had been enacted into law and concurrent resolutions agreed to. We get that text from the Statutes at Large on GPO.gov/FDSys (volumes 87-106; plain text and PDFs).
Votes Roll call votes in this time period were retrieved from From Rosenthal & Poole’s United States Congressional Roll Call Voting Records, 1789-1990, Carnegie Mellon University.
1951-1972
(82nd-92nd Congresses)
Bills In this time period we only have a record of bills, joint resolutions, and concurrent resolutions from the Statutes at Large on GPO.gov/FDSys (volumes 65-86). Only enacted bills and joint resolutions and concurrent resolutions agreed to are published in the Statutes at Large. See above.
Votes From Rosenthal & Poole’s United States Congressional Roll Call Voting Records, 1789-1990 (see above).
1799-1873
(6th-42nd Congresses)
Bills Our data on bills in the early days of the country are from the Library of Congress’s American Memory Century of Lawmaking collection via the am_mem_law project.
Votes From Rosenthal & Poole’s United States Congressional Roll Call Voting Records, 1789-1990 (see above).