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PS365 - Web Links on the U.S. Congress
Russell Renka

    Following are some useful edited links you should find valuable in connection with this class.   Please email me at rdrenka@semo.edu to pass along your suggested additions, deletions, corrections or reflections on utility of legislative websites.

°General Resources
°Archives on the Congress
°Biographies of Members
°The Calendar
°The Candidate Emergence Study
°The Capitol
°The Carl Albert Center
°Census Data
°Civility and Incivility
°Congressional Districts and Apportionment
°Congressional Directory
°Congressional Record, The
°Congressional Research Service
°Constitution, The U.S.
°Cook Political Report
°Data Collections
°The Dirksen Center's CongressLink
°Discipline of Members
°Fenno interviews
°Floor Voting
°Historical Documents
°Home Page for the U.S. Congress
°Humor on, by or about Members of Congress
°Interest Group Ratings of Members
°Judicial Nominations
°Laws and Bills
°Legislative Branch Support Agencies
°Legislative Studies Section
°Library of Congress, The
°Membership Directories
°Missouri General Assembly
°Money for Campaigns
°News Sources on Capitol Hill
°Party Leadership
°Public Opinion Polls
°Questions about Congress
°Really Dumb Laws
    °Texas 2003-04 partisan redistricting
°Roll Call Votes
°State Legislatures
°Statistical Abstract of the United States
°Term Limitations
°Textbook on the Congress
°Treasures of Congress
°Voters in Congressional Elections
°Women in the Congress

General Resources:                               Top

    The Library of Congress THOMAS -- U.S. Congress on the Internet has The U.S. Legislative Branch Links and THOMAS:  Legislative Information on the Internet.
    Official U.S. House and Senate websites are United States House of Representatives and United States Senate.
    GPOAccess has Congressional Committee Materials Online via GPO Access and Legislative Branch Resources, including Congressional Record Main Page.  It's an excellent starting locale for official sites.   
    Floor debates of House and Senate can be followed at FedNet.
    For historical materials see see LOC's American Memory series, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation - U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875.
    C-SPAN has C-SPAN.ORG - Congress Resources with numerous links.  See also C-SPAN 110TH CONGRESS, Congressional Directory, Congressional Information Center, and CapitolHearings.org.
    The Woodrow Wilson Center's Congress Project has
    The University of Michigan's Documents Center links directly to all federal offices and institutions in the legislative branch, including the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Congressional Directories along with Congressional E-Mail Addresses.
    The American Political Development website's Primary Resources - Congress has a dozen links.

Archives on the Congress:             Top

    See NARA Records of Congress Congressional Collections at the National Archives and Records Administration with a guide for locating personal papers of members of Congress, listed by the holder.

Biographies of Members:             Top

    Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present permits a search for all current or past Members of Congress.  For the U.S. House, see also the biographical information at Historical Information - Office of the Clerk on some of the Speakers of the House, plus a brief section on women in the House.
    See also from this file:  Congressional Directory; Membership Directories; and Women in the House, and in the Senate.

The Calendar:                  Top

     Daily business is shown via Senate Calendar of Business and Calendars of the House of Representatives.  For length of sessions, see Days in Session Calendars -- House and Senate dating back to the 94th Congress for the House (1975-76) and 95th for the Senate (1977-78).  Years of Congress Table (BROKEN LINK) from the University of North Texas Libraries, Government Documents Dept., shows the beginning and end dates for all Congresses and Sessions dating from 1789.  Total days in session or other indicators of workload are not shown.  For 1st through 73rd Congress, the December starts on Session 1 and the March 3 or March 4 Session 2 termination dates both reflect the old calendar preceding Amendment XX of 1933, which thereafter modified the start of Session 1 from the first Tuesday in December (13 months after the election of that Congress) to January 3 (approximately two months after the election).

The Candidate Emergence Study:  The Candidate Emergence Study Website has the several major papers authored so far from this important NSF-funded study conducted by Principal Investigators Walter Stone and L. Sandy Maisel.  See in particular The Politics of Government Funded Research.

The Capitol:             Top

     See The United States Capitol at the Architect of the Capitol site.  Extensive layouts exist, including The History of the U.S. Capitol, The Congressional Office Buildings, and Art in the U.S. Capitol.

The Carl Albert Center:                 Top

    The Carl Albert Center at the University of Oklahoma has Congressional Archives with Congressional Links.  It also hosts the journal Extensions, a forum for discussion of the Congress.  See also the Audio Clips on Albert, former Oklahoma Senator Robert S. Kerr, and former Senator Fred Harris.

Census Data:               Top

    Census Bureau Home Page highlights the Census 2000 Gateway with American FactFinderCensus Guide 2000 from U of Michigan Documents Center is a good guide to this.  Census Guide 2000 - Redistricting Files has links to the 2000 Census reapportionments of U.S. congressional districts.  Summary File 2 Census 2000 has the resultant profile of the 108th Congress of 2003-04.  To use FactFinder for congressional district maps, follow the protocol outlined by Kristin Kanthak at Pol407-Congress and American Politics under "Congressional District."
    Separately, the Historical Census Browser is organized by decade from 1790 through 1960. 

Civility and Incivility:           Top

     On civility (and lack of it) see CIVILITY IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES -- TESTIMONY from 1997 hearings; a full transcript is shown at  CIVILITY IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES -- TRANSCRIPT.  That's the tenor in the House recently, for a contrast with the Senate, see Frank Bruni, The Leaders - Senate's Leaders Forge New Ties in the NYTimes.  The Annenberg Public Policy Center's Political Discourse - Civility in the House of Representatives by Kathleen H. Jamieson and co-authors has four articles dating from the March 1997 Hershey, Pa retreat to a 2001 report on the 106th Congress.  CIVILITY IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES -- Executive Summary is their best-known paper.

Committees:            Top

    The U.S. House of Representatives - Committee WWW Services and U.S. Senate are respective index sites for each body.  The House site isn't very user-friendly and require a bit of time to investigate, so review House Committee Jurisdictions.  New information from the 108th Congress is now going up with little or no lag time (but per January 23, the newly created House Select Committee on Homeland Security wasn't up).
    Start with Congressional Committee Information from U of Michigan Documents Center to scan background sites.  OpenSecrets.org has Congressional Committee Profiles for the 106th and 107th Congresses; their emphasis is on which interests contribute political money to Members of which committees.  Congress Merge has Congressional Committees and Subcommittees from Juan Cabanela with itemized lists of subcommittees for each one.  There's always some lag in early winter months of a new Congress, so in January 2003, the new membership of the 108th hasn't yet replaced the old membership of the 107th Congress.  This site even has the Blue Dogs listings its conservative and moderate congressional Democrats; it's not a permanent or select committee, but here they are.

Congressional Directory:                                   Top

    The Congressional Directory covers the 105th (1997-98) through 108th (2003-04) Congresses.  Viewing is always in text or PDF formats.  Search procedures are available but slow.

Congressional Districts and Apportionment:              Top

    Congressional Districts Cartographic Boundary Files - U.S. Bureau of the Census has districts from the 103rd (1993-94) through the 106th Congresses (1999-2000) in zipped files.  State governments often have district files; these are normally accessed through the office of the Secretary of State for the respective state.  During calendar years 2000 to 2002, the state's congressional redistricting sites are likely to have old files for districts from the 103rd through 107th Congresses.  Access is fairly simple using the search term "congressional districts.
    Congressional Apportionment via Census 2000 shows links to pertinent tables, maps and charts on district apportionments.  For maps alone, see Resident Population and Apportionment Maps.
    Congressional Apportionment from nationalatlas.gov has outlines of the 2002-to-2010 districts under the 2000 Census, with printable maps for each district in the 109th Congress.  These are revised in Texas from the 108th, courtesy of Tom DeLay (see below:  Texas 2003-2004 redistricting).  Printable Maps - Congressional Districts from nationalatlas.gov has the 109th (current) congressional maps for 2005-06.   Go directly to their Printable Maps List; but it does not show the statewide map with District identifications.
    Psephos - Adam Carr's Election Archive has current statewide district maps for each state, with some like Illinois and California subdivided to show urban districts.
    See below on this file:  Gerrymandering; Redistricting.

Congressional Record, The:                                  Top

     Congressional Record Main Page has this sole official record from Congress of what was said, by whom, when, and in what context (with some "editing" after the fact).  Thomas has Search Full Text of the Congressional Record - 108th Congress (2003-04) back to the same service for 101st Congress (1989-90).

Congressional Research Service:             Top

Congressional Research Service Reports - Legislative Process in the House has PDF files addressing congressional history, floor proceedings, introduction of legislative measures, House committees, relations with the Senate, presidential relations, special rules, and the budget process--all subjects of special interest to the House Rules Committee.  Congressional Research Service - WWW Accessible Reports has CRS information in hypertext.

Constitution, The U.S.:                   Top

 U.S. Constitution - Table of Articles from Cornell University School of Law, has U.S. Constitution - Article I with useful internal links showing changes via amendment.  Emory University School of Law has Constitution of the United States with comparably useful notations on changes in Article I.  See also their United States Constitution Search index.  Other sites are similar in principle; for example, Constitution for the United States of America.
    For general information and background on the Constitution, see National Archives and Records Administration - The Constitution of the United States.  Included is Roger A. Bruns' Article - A More Perfect Union - Creation of the U.S. Constitution.  For annotated recent court interpretation of clauses, see Library of Congress - The Constitution of the United States of America - Analysis and Interpretation published by the Congressional Research Service.  For those who are seriously history-minded, see The Avalon Project Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention - Madison's Notes; also see their outstanding compilation of predecessor documents at The Avalon Project The American Constitution - A Documentary Record.

Cook Political Report, The:                         Top

The Cook Political Report from Cook & Company provides excellent analysis of elections of Senators and Representatives, both after the fact and via forecasts.  For example on the Senate, see The Cook Political Report - Senate Rundown from the August 2003 Report.

C-SPAN:                                     Top

    C-SPAN - Watch C-SPAN Live includes both live coverage and an extensive Program Archive.  A useful index is at C-SPAN Programming Links.  See live streaming coverage of Senate committee deliberations at www.CapitolHearings.org.

Data Collections:                               Top

    Keith Poole's Voteview site is shown separately below, under "Ideology."
    Charles Stewart's congressional data page indexes several data sets.  See Charles Stewart's congressional data page #1 and Charles Stewart's congressional data page #2 for congressional committees.  The first does historical committees before the 80th Congress in 1947.  The second includes recent data on standing committees for the 103rd to 105th Congresses.  Charles Stewart's congressional data page #3 has congressional roll call votes.
    Record of American Democracy (ROAD) Project is a Harvard project with extensive disaggregated election data for 1984-1990.  Some is directly available, some in Acrobat files deposited with ICPSR.
    Data Sets from David Lublin at American University has several nice .ZIP files used in his recent publications.
    Congressional District Dataset from Scott Adler at University of Colorado has "a wide range of economic, social and geographic information for every U.S. congressional district, from 1943-1998."
     Tim Groseclose at Stanford University has inflation-adjusted ADA scores covering 1947-1999, in Excel files.  His DATA ARCHIVE has these, and also the comparable ACU scores covering 1971-1999.
     Eric Reinhardt's Data Page has Time Series Data on the US Congress, 1947-1994 in a zip file for Excel or Stata.

The Dirksen Center's CongressLink:                      Top

CongressLink from The Dirksen Center has "a comprehensive, daily-updated guide to Congress."

Discipline of Members:                                Top

Elections of Congress:               Top

      Grace York's University of Michigan Documents Center has the 2000 congressional elections at Elections 2000 under subheadings of "Congressional Candidates" followed by "Congressional Districts."    1998 Election Results covers the last midterm.  Political Science Resources - Top 1996 Election Sites covers 1996.

    Newspapers:  See washingtonpost.com Elections 2002 and Elections 2000 from the Washington Post.

Federal Elections 98: Table of Contents from Federal Election Commission has official House and Senate results from 1998, including some useful tables with adjacent primary and general election tallies to permit easy comparison of primary turnout to general election turnout (for example, see 1998 Votes Cast for the U.S. House).

    Federal Elections 96: Table of Contents:   The FEC shows official results for both general and primary elections in 1996 as well.  Earlier years since 1982 are also available.   The accuracy and precision is considerably above the many media archive sources; percentage vote division is taken down to hundredths (for ex., Dole 50.12% and Clinton 43.16% in Alabama in 1996).  Also included are tables including the total vote cast respectively for Presidency, Senate office, and House office, at Federal Elections 96: General Election Votes Cast for PSH.  These are entirely text files.

    Election Statistics - Members and Committees - Office of the Clerk:  The Clerk of the House has Acrobat files scanned from print records back to 1920.  There are also hypertext files for 1992 through 1998.  All files show the official numerical vote count for every candidate plus write-in vote and total tally, without percentages.  Coverage includes each congressional district plus statewide Senate and Electoral College voting.  Unfortunately, the 2000 election is still not up as of 23 March 2001.

    Dubious Democracy from Fair Vote has contextual detail on low levels of electoral competition in modern U.S. House elections--hardly a secret to any student of Congress.  But this is useful data in any case. US House 1954 to 1998 is downloadable data showing the percent of seats won by incumbents, the percent where the incumbent won a "landslide" over >60%, the percent of seats changing party, and the percent of seats held by each major national party.

   StateVote2000:  Dated 14 December 2000 from the National Conference of State Legislatures, this site has extensive information on state legislative seat division and election results, at Elections.  Included is Democratic Share of Legislative Seats 1938-2000 with a graph demonstrating the once-robust Democratic Party dominance of southern and national state seats, replaced now with rough nationwide seat parity of each party.  Party Control of State Legislatures 1938-2000 is another graph showing party division.

Fenno interviews:                Top

    Fenno Research Interviews from NARA's Center for Legislative Archives include all the subjects of Richard Fenno's magisterial study of the House Appropriations Committee.  See also Fenno Research Interview Notes for context and method.

Floor Voting:              Top

House Floor Votes:  The official site, maintained by the Clerk of the House, has data from 1990 (101st Congress, 2d Session) through current activity.  All is in data form rather than Acrobat or other non machine-readable formats.

Senate Floor Votes:   This site also dates from 1989 but currently ends with the 105th Congress in 1998.

Voter Information Services (VIS) runs an excellent nonpartisan site with a VIS Database of more than 1800 congressional votes from which are derived ratings by 35 advocacy groups (at Congressional Report Cards).  The computer database of votes and the roll call material are described at Congressional Votes from VIS.

VoteWatch (Congressional Quarterly, Inc.): (BROKEN LINK, being fixed)  A nice search-based source of information on floor voting by individual Members, but less useful than the counterpart Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report print pages for scanning overall patterns of voting by party, region, or other large-scale tendencies.  Also, the archive covers only 18 months.

Congressional Votes Library -- C-SPAN:  This is another searchable source, well organized.  But like other website sources, it's limited to the past half-decade or shorter time as use of the web became widespread.

CongressTrack - Project Vote Smart: has all one could ask for finding a bill, seeing where it is now, learning what Members are doing about it, and back-checking that action against their prior issue positioning.  See especially the PVS National Political Awareness Test for six years' worth of detailed data on issue positions of a great many Members of Congress as well as candidates for other high office; then try Major Votes - 106th Congress Members for comparable votes on important issues suited for inclusion in the Awareness Test (details are here on how major votes are selected).  Or do this procedure in reverse.

Gerrymandering:                       Top

    Baffling Boundaries - the Politics of Gerrymandering from UC San Diego displays the fundamentals, has illustrations from San Diego, and provides a bibliography including some of the seminal work by Bernard Grofman and others.
    See also from this file:   Congressional Districts, Redistricting, and Texas 2003-04 redistricting.

Historical Documents:            Top

     Historical Documents from the Thomas site includes searchable collections from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 1787, at Early Congressional Documents.  See also A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation from the Library of Congress, with archives of early journals such as Farrand's Records.

    A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873 from The Library of Congress has detailed journal records, including Journals of the Continental Congress and Farrand's Records, from the pre-1789 period.  Wonderful source of early primary documents.

    The Center for Legislative Archives - This is the National Archives and Records Administration's official repository for historical information on the Congress.  Some outstanding resources are already on-line, including interview materials from Richard Fenno (at www.nara.gov, entitled RESEARCH INTERVIEW NOTES OF RICHARD F. FENNO, JR.).

Home Page for the U.S. Congress:            Top

Congressional Mega Sites Plus from Thomas (Legislative Information on the Internet) is the starting point.

Humor on, by or about Members of Congress:         Top

The Senator Prank Joke Letters Sent To The U.S. Government from ZUG - The World's Only Comedy Site - Pranks, Jokes, Funny Video Clips, and Other Funny Stuff has a faked but authentic-looking 10-year-old's letter asking Senator for their favorite jokes (for public consumption).  Replies are interesting.

Ideology:                 Top

    Keith Poole has Recent Papers including explanations of how ideology of Members of Congress is measured from the evidence of their floor voting.  I recommend seeing NOMINATE:  A Short Intellectual History for background.  Different types of NOMINATE scores are explained at README.TXT Page.  Also, see Changing Minds? Not In Congress! for the argument that Members do not change their ideological positioning during their careers.
    Voteview at Princeton has some historical illustrations of "ideological maps"; and Poole's Data Download - Front Page has such mapping for the 1st through 108th Congresses.
    Dr. Keith Poole - analyses of recent american politics - front page has recent key floor votes, including the Impeachment Page on the 1998-99 Clinton impeachment votes in the 105th House and Senate, and Ashcroft nomination of 1 February 2001 in the 107th Senate. Analyses includes links to fit statistics for Bush era congresses that show increased party division with respect to ideology, along with the alignment of most floor votes on a single ideological dimension now that civil rights has become incorporated into standard party positions.
    Tim Groseclose at Stanford University has inflation-adjusted ADA scores covering 1947-1999, in Excel files.  His DATA ARCHIVE has these, and also ACU scores, 1971-1999.   
    Cross-reference within my file topics is to: Floor Voting by Members, and Tracking Floor Voting.

Interest Group Ratings of Members:            Top

     Voter Information Service Report Cards for Members of Congress are at Congressional Report Cards.  Each one includes numerous interest group ratings, including ACA, ADA, AFL-CIO, Christian Coalition, and many lesser-known evaluations.  Useful shorthand, but treat these with due caution.  Women's Voting Guide by womenvote.org uses Voter Information Service votes in the 1990s to allow comparison of one's own preferences to Senators and Representatives.

 Judicial Nominations:                  Top

Judicial Nominations and Vacancies:  Partisan combat over cultural questions now reigns supreme over this topic.  Culturally conservative interest groups feature the issue prominently; see, for example, The American Center for Law and Justice.  The same goes for culturally liberal groups such as People For the American Way.  Off the web as on, both use the issue to subscribe citizens and raise money.
    During Clinton's second term (1997-2001), extended judicial vacancies became commonplace.  The Constitution Project's Courts Initiative -- Main Page defined the problem.  This bipartisan group is devoted to maintaining the traditional independence of the judiciary from direct partisan combat.  Its Task Force Reports of the Constitution Project's Courts Initiative makes that case.
    A Clinton era legacy was a high number of lower-court vacancies being unfilled.  That has abated since 2001, but many vacancies remain contentious.  See Vacancy List by Circuit and District Report Main Menu, part of The Federal Judiciary website.  Corroboration is provided via Judicial Emergencies (see also their Revised Definition for Judicial Emergencies).
    The Brennan Center for Justice - Resources has an October 1999 article on the Senate's policy since 1995 of systematically delaying or denying hearings on numerous Clinton judicial nominees.  They claimed that shortages produced "judicial emergencies" on six of the 13 federal Circuit Courts of Appeal.  A leading figure in the delay strategy was Senator John Ashcroft (R-Mo.), who in 2001 became Attorney General in the Bush Administration.
    The Senate Judiciary Committee tracks current-congress nominations at United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Article III Confirmed Query.
     Partisan combat on federal judicial appointments during the Clinton Administration continued into the Bush Administration in 2001, with Senate Democrats instead of Republicans producing the holdups.  Roles were reversed after May 2001 when Democrats assumed majority control of the Senate Judiciary Committee and used the Committee to freeze some nominations.  That ended with the 2002 midterm elections, returning the Committee chair to Orren Hatch in 2003-04.  Senate Democrats then adopted filibuster tactics on selected nominees, resulting in an escalated conflict.  JURIST - Judicial Confirmations Symposium is an online symposium of approximately a dozen scholars addressing these 2003 Senate conflicts over Bush judicial nominations.
    MDGJudiciaryTestimonyMay2003 illustrates some liberal group testimony on the dynamics of this process. 

Laws and Bills:           Top

    First the Congress must produce a bill.  See America Rock - "I'm Just a Bill" for Dave Frishberg's 1975 classic School House Rock ditty.  Some of these actually will pass both houses in identical form, be signed by the President (if not vetoed), and become laws.  But most will not.  See HOW OUR LAWS ARE MADE, rev. by Charles W. Johnson, Parliamentarian US House of Representatives, at the Thomas site. 
    Those that do can be surveyed through U.S. Legislative Information links, including U.S. Legislative Information - Laws.  The Law Librarians' Society maintains a very useful LLSDC Legislative Sourcebook Home Page -- Index to Available Documents and Resources.
    The problem here is data wealth and difficulty in finding what you want.  Search via THOMAS -- U.S. Congress on the Internet.  How-to files are available; so are explanatory frameworks such as Bill and Amendment Types.  See also the Congressional Reference Division's 1996 guide How to Follow Current Federal Legislation and Regulations (PDF file).  C-SPAN helps out with a searchable key-bill site at  Congressional Bill Status - -- C-SPAN.  For another source of bills, GPO Access has Congressional Bills.

Legislative Branch Support Agencies:                 Top

   Congressional Internet Services includes links to the Government Printing Office, the General Accounting Office, the Congressional Budget Office, the Architect of the Capitol, and the Office of Technology Assessment.

Legislative Studies Section:           Top

    APSA Legislative Studies Section Newsletter

Library of Congress, The:        Top

The Library of Congress is a majestic site with an array of links, including entree to THOMAS -- U.S. Congress on the Internet.

Maps:            Top

    See above in this file, under Congressional Districts and States.

Membership Directories:                   Top

    See Member Information - Office of the Clerk for the U.S. House of Representatives, and for the U.S. Senate.  Welcome to CapitolWatch.org uses a five-digit and nine-digit ZIP Code Search for U.S. Congresspersons and Senators.  With nine-digit, all urban residents can locate their congressional district and its Member.  At the state levels, Legislative Hotline Directory has telephone numbers to call for legislative bill status in the 50 states.

Missouri General Assembly:                 Top

    The official site is Missouri General Assembly, which includes Missouri General Assembly Debates, Joint Bill Tracking Page, Missouri Revised StatutesMissouri Senate - Legislator Lookup and other access.
    The  Missouri Legislature from Missourinet's GovWatch service (from home site at Missourinet.com, click on Legislature.com) provides a host of services based on 25 years coverage in Jefferson City.  A recent online service is streamed live audio of all debate in the Missouri House and Senate.  Also included is an archive of floor debate indexed by bill number and title.  Nice--but unfortunately it costs $750 per year.  I cite this commercial service here because it could be an interested party's only means of getting full access to details.
    For local newspaper information on state legislators, see NewsLink:  Missouri newspapers or eLibrary's listing at  www.newsdirectory.com/news/press/na/us/mo/.
    See below in this file:  State legislatures.

Money for Campaigns:         Top

Federal Election Commission:  It's the official and authoritative source for 'hard money' contributions to presidential and congressional candidates--and quite user-friendly, to boot.

Welcome to Open Secrets.org:  This Center for Responsive Politics site is reform-oriented and comprehensive.  It includes Election 2000 Congressional Races and 1998 Candidate Profiles.  There are plentiful links to the Federal Election Commission (see above) for campaign money details.  Links are also in place for All Presidential Candidates Total Raised and Spent in 2000.

FECInfo Home Page:  Maintained by the public interest group Public Disclosure, Inc. with a strongly reformist view of congressional campaign money, this is a highly usable and well organized alternative way to troll through the wealth of FEC data on hard money in congressional and presidential election campaigns.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON MONEY IN STATE POLITICS:   This site follows money in state legislative settings.  Success at this is varied according to diverse state laws and regulations.

News Sources on Capitol Hill:                Top

Congressional Quarterly:  The leading publisher on the U.S. Congress, Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report has recent Index information at Congressional Quarterly Index Page.

C-SPAN:  As the official television channel of Congress, the site also has general applications, including roll call monitoring.

The Hill - Begun in 1994, this non-partisan weekly is one of the leading in-house news sources read by people in Capitol Hill.

Roll Call Online - It's read widely on the Hill, and is especially useful for insightful "scoop" articles on leadership maneuvers, staff changes, insider's reactions to an issue--all great stuff for practitioners, political junkies, and serious students of Congress.  But as of January 2003, it went private for subscribers only; understandable but unfortunate, as this will significantly reduce their exposure to students.

Washington Post's Congress page -

Parliaments:                  Top

     See Websites of Parliaments from Wilfred Derksen for links to all national parliamentary bodies.  This is part of his extensive "Elections around the World"; see Electionworld.org's site map for a full guide.  The Weidenbaum Center, National Parliaments Websites run by Steven S. Smith of Washington University has alphabetically listed links to each parliament.

Party Leadership:             Top

United States House of Representatives - Leadership Offices Website Links and

Also, The Congressional Institute - Congressional Leadership

Revolving Speakership:  Few have risen so high or fallen so fast as the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (1995-98).  For synopses of the post-election 1998 downfall of Gingrich, his replacement by Livingston, followed by Livingston's mea culpa and resignation, leading to the unlikely leadership of Dennis Hastert (R-IL) in the 106th Congress, see NBCi- Republican Party Shake-Up.  The current Speaker Dennis Hastert's official site is The Official Home Page of Speaker Denny Hastert.  Naturally, cartoonists had some fun at Gingrich's expense, per Newt is OUT --by all of the top Cartoonists!.  And of course Mother Jones has made a specialty of investigative coverage of the former Speaker's fascinating career, per Special on Newt Gingrich you saw it here first!

Public Opinion Polls:                      Top

  Polling Sources on the Web.   Shown here are a couple of the leading ones with pertinent information on legislatures.  For a compendium of polls see also Washingt onpost.com Data Directory.

The New York Times/CBS News Poll:  Their archives at The New York TimesCBS News Poll include one on approval of Congress, at Congress Approval, with frequent polling dated back to April 1974.  Three other standard running records on important subjects are:  Most Important Problem Facing the Country (two polls, from 1997), Clinton Approval (dating from February 1993), and The Economy (dating from 1986). (ALL links require NYT password)

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press:  The Pew Center includes Polls and Surveys with an itemized Table of Contents dating from August 1995.  A high proportion of these address congressional behavior and policy.

The Gallup Organization:  Gallup has gone private now with most of its extensive archive, but some scraps are left for web users.  Gallup includes specific information on how its polling is done (How Polls Are Conducted; see also the separate website by Ken Blake at UNC-Chapel Hill entitled The Ten Commandments of Polling).  Gallup has many contemporary issues including impeachment-related information dated from January 1998.  Their archive dates back to early 1996 and includes numerous judgments by the public toward the Congress, its leadership figures, and its collective actions.  Approval ratings of Congress dating back to 1974 are at Gallup Poll Trends - Congress Job Approval, with intensive multi-year polling since February 1993.

Questions about Congress:         Top

    C-SPAN's Capitol Questions answered by Ilona Nickels, C-SPAN Resident Congressional Scholar, is an excellent place to go.  Just click on the pertinent question.  Nice imagery is included with some replies.  And of course you can email Nickels your own question.  Complete Listing of Glossary Terms is also extremely useful for answering your own questions or doing basic research on Congress.  But it isn't perfect; the King of the Hill glossary entry is incorrect.  This definition ("King-of-the-Hill refers to a special rule for sequencing, debating and voting on competing amendments.  If more than one version receives a majority of votes, the one with the largest margin prevails.") is incorrect.  The definition applies instead to "Queen of the Hill," which isn't included in the Glossary.  King-of-the-Hill should say:  "If more than one version receives a majority of votes, the last one to win a majority prevails."  King-of-the-Hill prevailed in the House through the Democrat-run 103rd Congress (1993-94) but was since replaced with Queen-of-the-Hill by the Republicans.

Really Dumb Laws:       Top

    Dumb Laws from Bueno Technologies has a vast array of stupidities committed to parchment in the name of legislative sponsors.  Thanks to my colleague Michael Levy for alerting me to this collection of pearls.

Redistricting:                  Top

    Redistricting, from Purdue University Libraries, has a thorough listing of "Government Redistricting Web Sites."  The U.S. Census Redistricting Data Program - Main Page has links to each of the 50 states, setups for the 2010 redistricting, and background on Public Law 94-171 (P.L. Requirements).

    NCSLnet Redistricting Task Force from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has Redistricting Law, Redistricting Process, Census and Population, Redistricting Technology, Redistricting Research and Presentations, and Links.

    Redistricting Law 2000 by the Redistricting Task Force has:

Its orientation is largely legal rather than expressly political, but the entangled political elements of this "political thicket" are always quite evident in the text.
    U.S. Census Bureau - Congressional Affairs Office - Apportionment describes the "equal proportions method" to allocate U.S. House seats by state after each census; and see Census 2000 for applications.
    The Center for Voting and Democracy is an advocate of proportional representation and therefore has an extensive critique of single member districting at Introduction to Redistricting via links to numerous Center publications.

Texas 2003-04 partisan redistricting:                  Top

    Redistricting Services from the Texas Legislative Council is the official site for the Tom DeLay-led redistricting between the 2002 Republican takeover of the 78th Legislature and the subsequent redrawn U.S. House map of 2004.  Enactment was on 12 October 2003.
    See Texas Redistricting Data from the Office of the State Demographer to find downloadable maps of the resulting districts.
    The intention and effect was to pack Democratic votes into black and Hispanic regions to deprive white Democrats of sufficient base vote to survive challenges by primary challengers (in minority districts) or by Republicans in districts made more conservative by redrawing.  A federal three-judge panel from the Eastern District of Texas district court declined to overturn the DeLay product (Judges uphold new map, Austin American-Statesman, January 7, 2004) in Session, et al. v Rick Perry, et al. (sessvperry010604opn).  Plaintiffs alleged violation of the Voting Rights Act due to dilutions of minority vote, but defendants successfully claimed partisan rather than racial intent.  The U.S. Supreme Court on 16 January 2004 declined to hear an emergency appeal from the Texas Democrats, thus permitting the redrawn districts to apply to the 2004 election.  Any eventual hearing of the case is delayed to 2005 or later.
    Special Report Driving the Districts from the Austin American-Statesman is a six-part series with background on the year-long controversy culminating in the redrawn map.  A chronicle of events is Public Interest Guide to Redistricting from The Center for Voting and Democracy - CVD.
    The core question is whether expressly partisan (not racial) redistricting can violate the Constitution.  See The Reform Institute For Campaign and Election Issues coverage.  The Supreme Court on 28 April 2004 decided the State of Pennsylvania partisan redistricting case of Veith v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. ___ (2004); see Court Affirms Pa. Congressional Boundaries, but Leaves Open Future Challenges to Redistricting Plans.  This case invited the Texas case Henderson v. Perry, 03-9644 to reach the Court in the 2004-05 session; but in October 2004 the Court told a Texas federal district court to rehear the case there--thus avoiding its own direct hearing of this case when Veith revealed a lack of Court consensus on how to rule.  Meanwhile the Texas redistricting resulted in a six-seat Republican gain in the U.S. House.

Representation:                 Top

    For the U.S. Congress, partisan division from the 34th Congress in 1855 to the present in House and Senate is shown at History of Congressional Elections - Historical Information Office of the Clerk.  Data is downloadable to Excel or SPSS using Internet Explorer.
     For state legislatures, CSLNet Legislatures Partisan Composition includes NCSLnet Search Results - Partisan Composition of State Legislatures with current state legislative partisan divisions for the 99 state chambers divided among the 50 states; House and Senate are also listed separately.  Another current site covering state partisan division is The Fifty States Governors State Legislature Party Splits Session Dates Next Elections from Stateside Associates.

Roll Call Votes:                  Top

    See CongressTrack - Project Vote Smart:, all one could ask for finding a bill, seeing where it is now, learning what Members are doing about it, and back-checking that action against their prior issue positioning.  See especially the PVS National Political Awareness Test for six years' worth of detailed data on issue positions of a great many Members of Congress as well as candidates for other high office; then try Major Votes - 106th Congress Members for comparable votes on important issues suited for inclusion in the Awareness Test (details are here on how major votes are selected).  Or do this procedure in reverse.
    See also in this file:  Floor Voting.

State Legislatures:           Top

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL):   Excellent for many aspects of the 50 state legislatures.  Itemized state-by-state information is shown at NCSLnet Internet Sites Database Search Results.  Warning:  quality will vary.  As usual for websites, national sites are more comprehensive and accessible than state ones, which in turn are superior to most local ones--exactly the opposite of what my highly esteemed state Senator says is true of all aspects of the American federal system. See immediately above (under Representation) for further state legislative information from NCSL and others.
    Stateline.org - your source for state news is excellent for issue-based surveying of political activity among the 50 states and their 99 legislative houses.  A larger site is the Council of State Governments' States News - Your Source for Daily State and CSG News; jump off to Other Resources - State and Local Government Links for specific searches.  The most comprehensive background information on states is linked via the U.S. Census Bureau's Federal State and Local Governments - Main Page.
    Governing Magazine - Online state and local government has valuable articles, and exceptionally thorough Governing- State government links.
    The Gallup Organization:  The oldest and among the most authoritative sources of polling data, Gallup includes specific information on how polling is properly done (at How Polls Are Conducted; see also the separate website by Ken Blake at UNC-Chapel Hill entitled The Ten Commandments of Polling).  Gallup has many contemporary issues including impeachment-related information dated from January 1998.  Their archive dates back to early 1996 and includes numerous judgments by the public toward the Congress, its leadership figures, and its collective actions.  Approval ratings of Congress dating back to 1974 are at Gallup Poll Trends - Congress Job Approval, with intensive multi-year polling since February 1993.

Statistical Abstract of the United States:                 Top

Statistical Abstract of the United States for 2001-2002 is available in PDF.

Term Limitations:                        Top

    Since the action has been at state legislatures, see Term Limits from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).   Included here is Term Limited States By Year Enacted and Year of Impact showing what states are subject, when the limits were enacted, how long the permissible tenure of members is, and how large the percentage public vote was at time of enactment.  Numerous comprehensive links with search functions are available for other facets of the subject as well.  Their Joint Project on Term Limits is underway currently; see the Executive Summary for interim information.
      Washingtonpost.com Term Limits Resources & Links is dated from late 1998 but still is a good starting place for links to term limitations organizations.  Included are proponent groups including U.S. Term Limits; Americans Back in Charge Foundation (see also its Term Limits) (BROKEN LINKS); and the Cato Institute (see Real term limits now more than ever from Doug Bandow, and The End of Representation:  How Congress Stifles Electoral Competition by Eric O'Keefe and Aaron Steelman.  Opposition is from other public interest groups including Common Cause -- Washington Watchdog, The American Prospect - Peter Schrag, The Populist Road to Hell:  Term Limits in California, Winter 1996, and Americans for Democratic Action:  Legislative Term Limitations 229.
     The Washington Post site also lists state adoptions of term limitations on state legislatures, at Washingtonpost.com Term Limits Special Report.  Cross-check this against the NCSL site in first paragraph above.  See also Washingtonpost.com Term Limits Key Stories dated from 1999.
   The key federal Supreme Court case is U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (1995) at FindLaw United States Case Law Supreme Court or at Cornell's U.S. Term Limits Inc. v. Thornton 514 U.S. 779 (1995).  Other rulings are listed at NCSLNET - Legislatures Elections Redistricting Term Limits.
    A bibliography of the extensive literature is at Legislative Term Limits: A Bibliography from Marc A. Levin and Bruce E. Cain, October 1998 at the Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California.  Academic papers are numerous.  One good recent one available on the web is at http://www.emory.edu/POLS/zorn/Papers/ehzpaper.pdf.
    The National Association of Counties has a 1996 file on term limitations in local government, at NACo - Publications - References & Brie.

Textbook on the Congress:                Top

    The American Congress, Smith, Roberts, and Vander Wielen is a recently issued textbook.  Excellent accessory links exist for the chapters, at The American Congress:  Sources

Treasures of Congress                 Top

    The National Archives "Treasures of Congress" Site Map has historical documents dating from the 1780s with excellent photographs and brief textual explanations.  The cartoon of onetime Speaker Joseph Cannon is a highlight.

Voters in Congressional Elections:                  Top

    National Election Studies Homepage from National Election Studies (NES) includes The NES Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior, the indispensable standard public opinion data for both congressional and presidential elections dating from 1952.  Note in particular its Index to the NES Guide with Section 8 on congressional candidates and part of Section 9 on congressional voting.

        CENSUS - Voting and Registration Data:  Here one finds detailed information on voters in recent elections back to 1964 and up th rough year 2000, all derived from the Current Population Survey maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.  Drawback is that it is slow to go online; the 1998 data wasn't posted until year 2000, 2000 data wasn't available during 2001, and 2002 isn't available in January 2003.   Historical Voting Tables - Congressional Elections covers voter turnout for midterms from 1966 through 1994.

Women in the Congress:          Top

  The Eagleton Institute of Politics Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers is the place for finding both women candidates and women in office in the U.S. Congress, statewide offices, and even state legislatures--for recent elections, of course.  Sampling of their syllabi on women in politics may also yield additional sites and data sets.  Women and Politics - Fact Sheets and Publications is searchable.
    Congresswomen's Biographies from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House, has brief biographies of the 62 women (compared to 463 men) in the current 108th Congress.  GenderGap - Women in Government, Politics and the Military has GenderGap - Elections with extensive evidence on numbers of women in public office.  Women and Politics from womenvote.org has extensive links, but some are dated for lack of the most recent election data.


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