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Posts Tagged ‘legislative process

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself”*…

 

The 93rd U.S. Congress, 1973-74, considered 26,157 bills; it made 738 (3%) of them law.  The 103rd Congress, 1993-94, enacted 458 (5%) of the 9,746 bills it considered.  The current Congress– the 113th, 2013-14– has so far introduced 7,980 bills, and passed only 100 (just over 1%) of them.

The Legislative Explorer, from researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for American Politics and Public Policy, allows readers to follow the lawmaking process– over 250,000 bills and resolutions introduced from 1973 to present– in action.

The left half represents the U.S. Senate, with senators sorted by party (blue=Democrat) and a proxy for ideology (top=liberal). The House is displayed on the right. Moving in from the borders, the standing committees of the Senate and House are represented, followed by the Senate and House floors. A bill approved by both chambers then moves upward to the President’s desk and into law, while an adopted resolutions (that does not require the president’s signature) moves downward.

Each dot represents a bill, so one can see them move through the process.  The drop-down menus at the top allow a shift of focus to a specific Congress, a person, a party, a topic, and several other categorizations; and there’s search to allow one to examine specific bills.  Counters across the bottom of the screen keep track of the action… or the lack thereof.

Give it a try.

[TotH to Flowing Data]

* Mark Twain

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As we yield, Mr. Speaker, to the gentleman from the District of Columbia, we might think expansionist thoughts in honor of Thomas Jefferson, whose emissaries Robert Livingston and James Monroe  signed the the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, called by some “the letter that bought a continent,” in Paris on this date in 1803… and in one stroke (well, three strokes– Livingston, Monroe, and French representative Barbé Marbois all signed) doubled the size of the United States.

 source

Sausage-making? Go ahead and look…

… the educational results– if not the intestine-encased waste products themselves– are good for one’s health.

Sunlight Labs (part of the Sunlight Foundation) is a non-profit, non partisan Washington, DC-based organization focused on digitization of government data and on creating tools and websites to make that data easily accessible.  Each year Sunlight Labs runs Design for America, a competition for the best design solutions to the problems facing governance and responsible citizenship  in the U.S.

This year’s winner in the “How a Bill Becomes Law” category, by Mike Wirth, is as beautiful as it is instructive:

click image (or here) to enlarge

See the other entries in this category, and the other categories, by following the links here.

(TotH to Flowing Data)

As we lift the rock in order to peer underneath, we might recall that it was on this date in 1800 that U.S. President John Adams took up residence in Washington, D.C. (in a tavern, as the White House was not yet completed).  Congress had passed the Residence Act in 1790, providing for the building of a national capital on the banks of the Potomac River; in 1791, the federal city was named for George Washington, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant began to plan the city.  Finally, in 1800, the government began to move into its new home, first the President, then Congress– which met in Washington for the first time in November of 1800.

White House under construction (White House Museum/Smithsonian Institution)

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