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 »
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he's accepting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's offer to hold an immigration vote at a later date, "clearing the way for passage of a bill to reopen the federal government" today. "McConnell early Monday promised to take up an immigration bill that would protect an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation, under an open amendment process, if Democrats would agree to end the government shutdown."
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday promised to take up an immigration bill protecting an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation and allow an open amendment process if Democrats agree to reopen the government." He may need up to a dozen Democratic votes.
The Senate on Sunday failed to reach agreement on a plan to fund the government through Feb. 8, postponing the vote until noon on Monday. "While lawmakers angled to score political points or shift blame, most agencies planned Monday to begin executing orderly shutdown procedures, per guidance from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney."