If you feel a strong degree of detachment from the processes and products of the United States Congress, you are not alone. Many Americans find it difficult navigating the maze of what is the federal legislative process, even amidst a current trend of creating transparency in government and holding elected officials accountable for their actions. While the Library of Congress has an official website (THOMAS) that makes legislative information freely available to the public, Americans remain largely disengaged because of its outdated online performance. The bills that sit before Congress and eventually the president are of national and thus personal importance, and yet Americans struggle to find a two-way channel that not only allows them to become informed about proposed legislation, but also add their voice to public policy affecting them as citizens.
In response to this lack of communication between the legislative branch and citizens, OpenCongress is “making it easier to understand, track, and engage with the U.S. Congress.” The project presents government data alongside relevant news coverage, blog posts, and public comments to give citizens the full picture of what’s currently happening in the 112th United States Congress with bills that are under consideration. Users can explore bills by popularity or issue, track senators and representatives based on the bills they vote for and sponsor, and use the Money Trail tool to expose corruption and wasteful spending by their congresspersons.
OpenCongress serves as a hub of information about Congress, continually gathering information from across the web and providing a platform for individuals and organizations to contact Congress with questions, feedback, and input. It’s important to get informed and become engaged with the federal legislature. Begin your participation here.