What’s new in Congress.gov? Spring 2021 Edition


Most of our Congress.gov posts focus on the enhancements which are part of our three week sprint cycles by which we release new material and upgrades to Congress.gov. However, sometimes I like to take a longer look back at the work we have done and provide a bigger snapshot of the Congress.gov enhancements.

At the September 2020 Congress.gov Virtual Public Forum, I shared a few slides of our future projects. The first was a committee hearing transcript (pictured below).

Committee hearing transcripts are not available on Congress.gov.

Committee hearing transcripts are now available on Congress.gov.

We started adding hearings to Congress.gov in September 2020 with two Congresses (the 115th and 116th). The first phase included providing the full text of hearing transcripts and adding them to our search results. Over time we added more Congresses and now have transcripts for eleven Congresses going back to the 107th Congress (2001-2002). Later in September 2020, we added links to the transcripts from the All Actions tab on Legislation. As of October you can now listen to the text of a committee hearing transcript. Earlier this month, we made two additional enhancements. The first was adding the ability to browse hearing transcripts by date on the Committee Schedule Select a Date calendar. We also added links to treaty documents from committee meeting overviews (see “Related Items”).

The second future project was adding Statutes at Large that contain the text of public law to the site for historical material.

The United States Statutes at Large from the 93rd to 103rd Congresses (1973-1994) are now available on Congress.gov.

The United States Statutes at Large from the 93rd to 103rd Congresses (1973-1994) are now available on Congress.gov.

In February 2021, we added our first phase of the public laws to the site. This first phase covered the 93rd to 103rd Congresses (1973-1994) where we already had bill detail pages but not the public law text.

The third project was the revamped Help Center that added search capabilities and keyword in context to the search results.

The Help Center box with results highlighted.

The Help Center with search results that include keyword in context

We now have keyword in context on both the Legislation Text quick search form results and the Help Center Search results.

The last project I talked about was on accessibility, and I discussed planned improvements. In addition to legislation text and summaries, we added the ability to have the text read to you and the ability to download an audio file to listen to the text of a committee reports, the Congressional Record Daily Digest, committee prints, committee hearing transcripts, and pages in the Help Center.

We also had a digital accessibility specialist at the Library of Congress do a Congress.gov Accessibility Survey. We are working to implement updates to the site to provide better accessibility.

Listen to this page on a committee report on Congress.gov

Click “Listen to this page” to hear the page read

Outside of what was discussed at the forum, an enhancement added since last September is the Bound Congressional Record from 85th-103rd Congresses (1957-1994).  Another great addition are the committee email alerts. Related to email alerts, we added the ability to consolidate your saved search email alerts into one message.

So that covers some of the work over the last six months. What is new today?

Enhancements

Margaret previously shared the enhancements earlier this month. With today’s second release in March we have added the following enhancements.

Enhancement – House Communications – Links

Enhancement – Congressional Record – Search

  • The Congress selection list on the search form includes all available Congresses.
  • Member remarks selection lists are unavailable for Congresses prior to the 104th.

Enhancement – Legislation Text – Search

  • Law texts are searchable from 93rd Congress (1973) to the present.



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