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 »
The Supreme Court announced "that it would consider a challenge to President Trump’s latest effort to limit travel from countries said to pose a threat to the nation’s security." The case concerns Trump's most recent attempt to make good on a campaign promise "tainted by religious animus" and only questionably justified by national security concerns. The decision to take the case, called Trump v. Hawaii, comes almost exactly a year after Trump issued the first travel ban. The ban under consideration affects Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea.
Trump wants to move the two grants, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant and the Drug Free Communities Act, to the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, respectively. This would result in a $300 million plus reduction in funding, about 95 percent of the cost of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "'I’m baffled at the idea of cutting the office or reducing it significantly and taking away its programs in the middle of an epidemic,'" said Regina LaBelle, who served as ONDCP chief of staff during the Obama administration. This is the second time the Trump Administration has proposed gutting the agency.
A new report assembled by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has identified more than 500 potential conflicts of interest in President Trump's first year. First, the report notes, Trump spent 122 days at his properties during his first year. He has been accompanied by 70 federal officials and 30 members of Congress. "Second, far from this signaled access to power being an empty promise, those who patronize President Trump’s businesses have, in fact, gained access to the president and his inner circle." Lastly, about 40 special interest groups and 11 foreign governments have held events at Trump properties.