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Contacting Elected Officials: Tracking Congressional Issues

Provides information and tips when contacting elected federal officials.

Is Congress Bought?

Is the congressional power to create U.S. law being sold to highest spender?  Are members of both houses acting on outside interests instead of the interests of the American people?  The following sources will allow you to find exact dollar amounts flowing through Congress, track campaign contributions to the member, and track how the member voted, among other ways money can influence politics.  

These sources are free to anyone:

  • Followthemoney.org -- Provides free access to federal and state level campaign contributions.  Data can also be accessed through an API or downloaded.
  • OpenSecrets.org -- From the Center for Responsive Politics
  • Sunlight Foundation -- Nonpartisan non-profit that advocates for open government.  Provides many tools and API (Application Programming Interface) for tracking money influencing Congress.
  • Federal Election Commission's Data Catalog --  Find campaign finance information from the FEC.  Other areas of the site allow for chart creation, data on Super PACs, etc.

The below sources are restricted to UCB ONLY:

Tracking Current U.S. Congressional Bills

Tracking a bill through Congress can be exciting.  The following links will allow you to track current bills, though there are many other sites out there.

  • Congress.gov -- Official Congressional site.  Sign up for a free account, then search for the bill you are interested in. 
  • GovTrack.us -- Sign up for a free account, then search for the bill you are interested in
  • Opencongress.org -- Sign up for a free account, then search for the bill you are interested in.

Congressional Procedure

Congress rarely considers bills in a linear fashion.  There are many rules, procedures and precedents that may affect how a bill makes its way though the House and the Senate.  The sources below detail Congressional Procedure in both chambers.

House

Senate

Background and Context

Trying to figure out what was influencing Congress is a goal of many researchers.  The following databases will allow you to search for  articles and books that will provide background and context into Congressional actions and proceedings. For current issues, another  good source to check are the major newspapers (Washington Post, NYT, etc).  Also consider following groups on issues you are interested in--many of these will put out statements on about/for/against legislation. 

Copyright © 2014-2016 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License.