Bills

Data on bills in Congress goes back to 2009, and comes from a mix of sources:

Feel free to open a ticket with any bugs or suggestions.

Methods

All requests require a valid API key, and use the domain:

https://congress.api.sunlightfoundation.com

/bills

Filter through bills in Congress. Filter by any fields below that have a star next to them. All standard operators apply.

Bills enacted into law in the 113th Congress

/bills?congress=113&history.enacted=true

Active bills, ordered by recent activity

/bills?history.active=true&order=last_action_at

Bills sponsored by Republicans that have been vetoed

/bills?sponsor.party=R&history.vetoed=true

Most recent private laws

/bills?enacted_as.law_type=private&order=history.enacted_at

Joint resolutions that received a vote in the House and Senate

/bills?bill_type__in=hjres|sjres&history.house_passage_result__exists=true&history.senate_passage_result__exists=true

/bills/search

Search the full text of legislation, and other fields.

The query parameter allows wildcards, quoting for phrases, and nearby word operators (full reference) You can also retrieve highlighted excerpts, and all normal operators and filters.

This searches the bill’s full text, short_title, official_title, popular_title, nicknames, summary, and keywords fields.

Laws matching “health care”

/bills/search?query="health care"&history.enacted=true

Bills matching “freedom of information” and words starting with “accountab”

/bills/search?query="freedom of information" accountab*

Bills with “transparency” and “accountability” within 5 words of each other, with excerpts

/bills/search?query="transparency accountability"~5&highlight=true

Fields

All examples below are from H.R. 3590 of the 111th Congress, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Many fields are not returned unless requested. You can request specific fields with the fields parameter. See the partial responses documentation for more details.

* = can be used as a filter

{
  "bill_id": "hr3590-111",
  "bill_type": "hr",
  "number": 3590,
  "congress": 111,
  "chamber": "house",
  "introduced_on": "2009-09-17",
  "last_action_at": "2010-03-23",
  "last_vote_at": "2010-03-22T03:48:00Z",
  "last_version_on": "2012-08-25"
}

* bill_id
The unique ID for this bill. Formed from the bill_type, number, and congress.

* bill_type
The type for this bill. For the bill “H.R. 4921”, the bill_type represents the “H.R.” part. Bill types can be: hr, hres, hjres, hconres, s, sres, sjres, sconres.

* number
The number for this bill. For the bill “H.R. 4921”, the number is 4921.

* congress
The Congress in which this bill was introduced. For example, bills introduced in the “111th Congress” have a congress of 111.

* chamber
The chamber in which the bill originated.

* introduced_on
The date this bill was introduced.

* last_action_at
The date or time of the most recent official action. In the rare case that there are no official actions, this field will be set to the value of introduced_on.

* last_vote_at
The date or time of the most recent vote on this bill.

* last_version_on
The date the last version of this bill was published. This will be set to the introduced_on date until an official version of the bill’s text is published.

Titles

{
  "official_title": "An act entitled The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.",
  "popular_title": "Health care reform bill",
  "short_title": "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act",

  "titles": [
    {
      "as": null,
      "title": "Health care reform bill",
      "type": "popular"
    },
    {
      "as": "enacted",
      "title": "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act",
      "type": "short"
    },
    {
      "as": "amended by senate",
      "title": "An act entitled The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.",
      "type": "official"
    }
  ]
  }

official_title
The current official title of a bill. Official titles are sentences. Always present. Assigned at introduction, and can be revised any time.

short_title
The current shorter, catchier title of a bill. About half of bills get these, and they can be assigned any time.

popular_title
The current popular handle of a bill, as denoted by the Library of Congress. They are rare, and are assigned by the LOC for particularly ubiquitous bills. They are non-capitalized descriptive phrases. They can be assigned any time.

titles
A list of all titles ever assigned to this bill, with accompanying data.

titles.as
The state the bill was in when assigned this title.

titles.title
The title given to the bill.

titles.type
The type of title this is. “official”, “short”, or “popular”.

Nicknames

{
  "nicknames": [
    "obamacare",
    "ppaca"
  ]
}

* nicknames
An array of common nicknames for a bill that don’t appear in official data. These nicknames are sourced from a public dataset at unitedstates/bill-nicknames, and will only appear for a tiny fraction of bills. In the future, we plan to auto-generate acronyms from bill titles and add them to this array.

Summary and keywords

{
  "keywords": [
    "Abortion",
    "Administrative law and regulatory procedures",
    "Adoption and foster care",
    ...
  ],

  "summary": "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - Title I: Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans...",

  "summary_short": "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - Title I: Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans..."
}

* keywords
A list of official keywords and phrases assigned by the Library of Congress. These keywords can be used to group bills into tags or topics, but there are many of them (1,023 unique keywords since 2009, as of late 2012), and they are not grouped into a hierarchy. They can be assigned or revised at any time after introduction.

summary
An official summary written and assigned at some point after introduction by the Library of Congress. These summaries are generally more accessible than the text of the bill, but can still be technical. The LOC does not write summaries for all bills, and when they do can assign and revise them at any time.

summary_short
The official summary, but capped to 1,000 characters (and an ellipse). Useful when you want to show only the first part of a bill’s summary, but don’t want to download a potentially large amount of text.

URLs

{
  "urls": {
    "congress" :"http://beta.congress.gov/bill/111th/house-bill/3590",
    "govtrack" :"http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/hr3590",
    "opencongress" :"http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3590/show"
  }
}

urls
An object with URLs for this bill’s landing page on Congress.gov, GovTrack.us, and OpenCongress.org.

History

{
  "history": {
    "active": true,
    "active_at": "2009-10-07T18:35:00Z",
    "house_passage_result": "pass",
    "house_passage_result_at": "2010-03-22T02:48:00Z",
    "senate_cloture_result": "pass",
    "senate_cloture_result_at": "2009-12-23",
    "senate_passage_result": "pass",
    "senate_passage_result_at": "2009-12-24",
    "vetoed": false,
    "awaiting_signature": false,
    "enacted": true,
    "enacted_at": "2010-03-23"
  }
}

The history field includes useful flags and dates/times in a bill’s life. The above is a real-life example of H.R. 3590 - not all fields will be present for every bill.

Time fields can hold either dates or times - Congress is inconsistent about providing specific timestamps.

* history.active
Whether this bill has had any action beyond the standard action all bills get (introduction, referral to committee, sponsors’ introductory remarks). Only a small percentage of bills get this additional activity.

* history.active_at
If this bill got any action beyond initial introduction, the date or time of the first such action. This field will stay constant even as further action occurs. For the time of the most recent action, look to the last_action_at field.

* history.house_passage_result
The result of the last time the House voted on passage. Only present if this vote occurred. “pass” or “fail”.

* history.house_passage_result_at
The date or time the House last voted on passage. Only present if this vote occurred.

* history.senate_cloture_result
The result of the last time the Senate voted on cloture. Only present if this vote occurred. “pass” or “fail”.

* history.senate_cloture_result_at
The date or time the Senate last voted on cloture. Only present if this vote occurred.

* history.senate_passage_result
The result of the last time the Senate voted on passage. Only present if this vote occurred. “pass” or “fail”.

* history.senate_passage_result_at
The date or time the Senate last voted on passage. Only present if this vote occurred.

* history.vetoed
Whether the bill has been vetoed by the President. Always present.

* history.vetoed_at
The date or time the bill was vetoed by the President. Only present if this happened.

* history.house_override_result
The result of the last time the House voted to override a veto. Only present if this vote occurred. “pass” or “fail”.

* history.house_override_result_at
The date or time the House last voted to override a veto. Only present if this vote occurred.

* history.senate_override_result
The result of the last time the Senate voted to override a veto. Only present if this vote occurred. “pass” or “fail”.

* history.senate_override_result_at
The date or time the Senate last voted to override a veto. Only present if this vote occurred.

* history.awaiting_signature
Whether the bill is currently awaiting the President’s signature. Always present.

* history.awaiting_signature_since
The date or time the bill began awaiting the President’s signature. Only present if this happened.

* history.enacted
Whether the bill has been enacted into law. Always present.

* history.enacted_at
The date or time the bill was enacted into law. Only present if this happened.

Actions

{
  "actions": [
    {
      "type": "vote",
      "acted_at": "2010-03-21T22:48:00-05:00",
      "chamber": "house",
      "how": "roll",
      "vote_type": "pingpong",
      "result": "pass",
      "roll_id": "165",
      "text": "On motion that the House agree to the Senate amendments Agreed to by recorded vote: 219 - 212 (Roll no. 165).",
      "references": [
        {
          "reference": "CR H1920-2152",
          "type": "text as House agreed to Senate amendments"
        }
      ]
    },
    {
      "type": "signed",
      "acted_at": "2010-03-23",
      "text": "Signed by President.",
      "references": []
    },
    {
      "type": "enacted",
      "acted_at": "2010-03-23",
      "text": "Became Public Law No: 111-148.",
      "references": []
    }
  ],
  "last_action": {
    "type": "enacted",
    "acted_at": "2010-03-23",
    "text": "Became Public Law No: 111-148.",
    "references": []
  }
}

The actions field has a list of all official activity that has occurred to a bill. All fields are parsed out of non-standardized sentence text, so mistakes and omissions are possible.

actions.type
The type of action. Always present. Can be “action” (generic), “vote” (passage vote), “vote-aux” (cloture vote), “vetoed”, “topresident”, and “enacted”. There can be other values, but these are the only ones we support.

actions.acted_at
The date or time the action occurred. Always present.

actions.text
The official text that describes this action. Always present.

actions.committees
A list of subobjects containing committee_id and name fields for any committees referenced in an action. Will be missing if no committees are mentioned.

actions.references
A list of references to the Congressional Record that this action links to.

actions.chamber
If the action is a vote, which chamber this vote occured in. “house” or “senate”.

actions.vote_type
If the action is a vote, this is the type of vote. “vote”, “vote2”, “cloture”, or “pingpong”.

actions.how
If the action is a vote, how the vote was taken. Can be “roll”, “voice”, or “Unanimous Consent”.

actions.result
If the action is a vote, the result. “pass” or “fail”.

actions.roll_id
If the action is a roll call vote, the ID of the roll call.

last_action
The most recent action.

Votes

{
  "votes": [
    {
      "type": "vote",
      "acted_at": "2010-03-21T22:48:00-05:00",
      "chamber": "house",
      "how": "roll",
      "vote_type": "pingpong",
      "result": "pass",
      "roll_id": "165",
      "text": "On motion that the House agree to the Senate amendments Agreed to by recorded vote: 219 - 212 (Roll no. 165).",
      "references": [
        {
          "reference": "CR H1920-2152",
          "type": "text as House agreed to Senate amendments"
        }
      ]
    }
  ]
}

The votes array is identical to the actions array, but limited to actions that are votes.

Sponsorships

{
  "sponsor_id": "R000053",
  "sponsor": {
    "bioguide_id": "R000053",
    "in_office": true,
    "last_name": "Rangel"
    ...
  },

  "cosponsor_ids": [
    "B000287",
    "B001231"
    ...
  ],
  "cosponsors_count": 90,
  "cosponsors": [
    {
      "sponsored_on": "2009-09-17",
      "legislator": {
        "bioguide_id": "B000287",
        "in_office": true,
        "last_name": "Becerra"
        ...
      }
    },
    {
      "sponsored_on": "2009-09-17",
      "legislator": {
        "bioguide_id":"B001231",
        "in_office":true,
        "last_name":"Berkley"
        ...
      }
    },
    ...
  ],

  "withdrawn_cosponsor_ids": [],
  "withdrawn_cosponsors": [],
  "withdrawn_cosponsors_count": 0
}

* sponsor_id
The bioguide ID of the bill’s sponsoring legislator, if there is one. It is possible, but rare, to have bills with no sponsor.

sponsor
An object with most simple legislator fields for the bill’s sponsor, if there is one.

* cosponsor_ids
An array of bioguide IDs for each cosponsor of the bill. Bills do not always have cosponsors.

* cosponsors_count
The number of active cosponsors of the bill.

cosponsors.sponsored_on
When a legislator signed on as a cosponsor of the legislation.

cosponsors.legislator
An object with most simple legislator fields for that cosponsor.

* withdrawn_cosponsor_ids
An array of bioguide IDs for each legislator who has withdrawn their cosponsorship of the bill.

* withdrawn_cosponsors_count
The number of withdrawn cosponsors of the bill.

withdrawn_cosponsors.withdrawn_on
The date the legislator withdrew their cosponsorship of the bill.

withdrawn_cosponsors.sponsored_on
The date the legislator originally cosponsored the bill.

withdrawn_cosponsors.legislator
An object with most simple legislator fields for that withdrawn cosponsor.

Committees

{
  "committee_ids": [
    "HSWM"
  ],
  "committees": [
    {
      "activity": [
        "referral"
      ],
      "committee": {
        "address": "1102 LHOB; Washington, DC 20515-6348",
        "chamber": "house",
        "committee_id": "HSWM",
        "house_committee_id": "WM",
        "name": "House Committee on Ways and Means",
        "office": "1102 LHOB",
        "phone": "(202) 225-3625",
        "subcommittee": false
      }
    }
  ]
}

* committee_ids
A list of IDs of committees related to this bill.

committees.activity
A list of relationships that the committee has to the bill, as they appear on THOMAS.gov. The most common is “referral”, which means a committee has jurisdiction over this bill.

{
  "related_bill_ids": [
    "hconres254-111",
    "hres1203-111",
    "hr3780-111",
    "hr4872-111",
    "s1728-111",
    "s1790-111"
  ]
}

* related_bill_ids
A list of IDs of bills that the Library of Congress has declared “related”. Relations can be pretty loose, use this field with caution.

Versions

{
  "versions": [
    {
      "version_code": "eas",
      "issued_on": "2009-12-24",
      "version_name": "Engrossed Amendment Senate",
      "bill_version_id": "hr3590-111-eas",
      "urls": {
        "html": "http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590eas/html/BILLS-111hr3590eas.htm",
        "pdf": "http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590eas/pdf/BILLS-111hr3590eas.pdf"
      }
    },
    {
      "version_code": "enr",
      "issued_on": "2010-08-25",
      "version_name": "Enrolled Bill",
      "bill_version_id": "hr3590-111-enr",
      "urls": {
        "html": "http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590enr/html/BILLS-111hr3590enr.htm",
        "pdf": "http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr3590enr.pdf"
      }
    }
  ],
  "last_version": {
    "version_code": "enr",
    "issued_on": "2010-08-25",
    "version_name": "Enrolled Bill",
    "bill_version_id": "hr3590-111-enr",
    "urls": {
      "html": "http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590enr/html/BILLS-111hr3590enr.htm",
      "pdf": "http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr3590enr.pdf"
    }
  }
}

The versions field is an array of information on each version of the bill. This data is sourced from GPO, and is published on a different schedule than most other bill information.

versions.bill_version_id
The unique ID for this bill version. It’s the bill’s bill_id plus the version’s version_code.

versions.version_code
The short-code for what stage the version of the bill is at.

versions.version_name
The full name for the stage the version of the bill is at.

versions.urls
A set of HTML, PDF, and XML links (when available) for the official permanent URL of a bill version’s text. Our full text search uses the text from the HTML version of a bill.

last_version
Information for only the most recent version of a bill. Useful to limit the size of a request with partial responses.

Upcoming Debate

{
  "upcoming": [
    {
      "source_type": "senate_daily",
      "url": "http://democrats.senate.gov/2013/01/21/senate-floor-schedule-for-monday-january-21-2013/",
      "chamber": "senate",
      "congress" :113,
      "range": "day",
      "legislative_day": "2013-01-21",
      "context": "The Senate stands in recess under the provisions of S.Con.Res.3.  The Senate will meet at 11:30am on Monday, January 21, 2013 for the Joint Session for the Inaugural Ceremonies."
    }
  ]
}

The upcoming field has an array of objects describing when a bill has been scheduled for future debate on the House or Senate floor. Its information is taken from party leadership websites in the House and Senate, and updated frequently throughout the day.

While this information is official, party leadership in both chambers have unilateral and immediate control over what is scheduled on the floor, and it can change at any time. We do our best to automatically remove entries when a bill has been yanked from the floor schedule.

upcoming.source_type
Where this information is coming from. Currently, the only values are “senate_daily” or “house_daily”.

upcoming.range
How precise this information is. “day”, “week”, or null. See more details on this field in the /upcoming_bills documentation.

upcoming.url
An official reference URL for this information.

upcoming.chamber
What chamber the bill is scheduled for debate in.

upcoming.congress
What Congress this is occurring in.

upcoming.legislative_day
The date the bill is scheduled for floor debate.

upcoming.context
Some surrounding context of why the bill is scheduled. This is only present for Senate updates right now.

Becoming Law

{
  "enacted_as": {
    "congress": 111,
    "law_type": "public",
    "number": 148
  }
}

If a bill has been enacted into law, the enacted_as field contains information about the law number it was assigned. The above information is for Public Law 111-148.

* enacted_as.congress
The Congress in which this bill was enacted into law.

* enacted_as.law_type
Whether the law is a public or private law. Most laws are public laws; private laws affect individual citizens. “public” or “private”.

* enacted_as.number
The number the law was assigned.