If you have ever looked for legislation online, you’ve likely encountered the THOMAS database and, well, groaned.Brendan Sasso writes at The Hill:
The database, a vestige of Web 1.0 in many ways, went live in January 1995 with just three weeks between the time the database was requested by the 104th Congress and its launch.
But all of that changed Wednesday when the Library of Congress, in conjunction with the Senate, House of Representatives and Government Printing Office, announced the launch of Congress.gov.
The site, which offers bill summaries, bill texts and vote tallies, will eventually replace THOMAS, Congress's current legislative database.
Congress.gov offers a host of improvements over the old service. The site is now accessible on mobile devices and features live and archived video of floor debates. The Library of Congress also cooperated with the House and Senate to provide profiles and biographical data of every member of Congress, along with information on all the bills they have introduced.
The new site features a dramatically overhauled search engine, which allows users to search across numerous years. THOMAS required users to specify a particular congressional session.It includes instructional videos. Here is one:
Search results are now sorted by relevance instead of bill number. Users can narrow the results by choosing to view measures only from particular parties, committees, years or other categories.