Your One-Stop Shop for Visualizing the Legislative Process

Prepare to be overwhelmed.

The state of lawmaking at press time.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
April 29, 2014, 9:46 a.m.

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 »
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
3 days ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
4 days ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
4 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login