In 1975, an animated, talking scroll taught kids how a bill becomes a law.
These days, teaching methods are a little bit more advanced. Take this free, new stunning visualization tool from researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for American Politics and Public Policy, which uses big data to show decades of the lawmaking process in action.
The tool, called Legislative Explorer, allows users to track the legislative movements of more than 250,000 congressional bills and resolutions introduced from 1973 to the present.
“Anyone can use Legislative Explorer to observe large scale patterns and trends in congressional lawmaking without advanced methodological training,” the website explains. “In addition, anyone can dive deeper into the data to further explore a pattern they’ve detected, to learn about the activities of an individual lawmaker, or to follow the progress of a specific bill.”
And, boy, is there a lot of data. Users can sift through it with a variety of filters: a specific Congress, senator, or representative, political party, topic, committee, sponsor, and more. You can also search for a bill by name and see where it died — or when it reached the president’s desk. Once you’ve picked a filter, hit the “play” button at the top left of the page and watch the magic happen (or not).
Each particle represents a bill or resolution, and their colors correspond to the party and chamber of the legislation, or to its sponsor. Red indicates Republican, blue Democrat, and yellow independent. Mouse over a dot to see more information about the bill. Hover over the people-shaped markers on the left- and right-hand sides to see names of Congress members, their ideology score, and their state. A handy tracker at the bottom of the page tallies the number of total bills for a Congress at a given point in time.
Long story short: You may want to watch this video tutorial before diving in.
At the time of this writing, 6,338 bills or resolutions have been introduced during the 113th Congress — 2,151 in the Senate and 4,187 in the House. Eighty-four of them, or about 1 percent, have become law.
h/t Nathan Yau
What We're Following See More »
"Iranian hackers have laid the groundwork to carry out extensive cyberattacks on U.S. and European infrastructure and on private companies, and the U.S. is warning allies, hardening its defenses and weighing a counterattack, say multiple senior U.S. officials. Despite Iran having positioned cyber weapons to carry out attacks, there is no suggestion an offensive operation is imminent, according to the officials, who requested anonymity in order to speak."
"Negotiators from the Senate and House of Representatives late Thursday agreed to abandon efforts to reinstate harsher sanctions" against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. "Draft language advanced in the House earlier this year focused on a procurement ban for ZTE products, whereas the Senate approved language that would reinstate the sales ban for U.S. companies to sell to ZTE." The change is a major win for President Trump, who has had exempted the company from earlier sanctions as part of broader trade negotiations with China.
"President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments" to former Playboy model Karen McDougal "who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump." The FBI seized the recording during an April raid of Cohens office. "The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election," which may violate federal campaign finance laws. Days before the election, Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks denied any knowledge of the payment, and said that the allegations were "totally untrue."
Conservative Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, a former CIA agent, says in a New York Times op-ed this morning that Russian intelligence is "manipulating" President Trump. "The leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes abroad," he writes.