Attorney Andrew Weber, the Legislative Information Systems Manager the Law Library of Congress, recently sent me a note to announce the debut this month of Congress.gov, a free public site for accessing legislative information. The new site will eventually replace the THOMAS system which has served as the official database for legislative information since 1995. Because Congress.gov is based on a new infrastructure, it is much more powerful than THOMAS. For example, you can now search across all content in the system at once.
You can use Congress.gov from virtually any device, but I'm mentioning the site today because it looks especially nice on an iPhone, a result of the website being designed to dynamically fit the size of the screen that you are using. This change was intentional; improving mobile access was one of the goals of the new Congress.gov site. For example, on a computer it looks like this:
On an iPhone 5 in landscape mode, the site adjusts itself to look like this:
And on an iPhone 5 in portrait mode, it looks like this. The second picture shows what you see when you tap the small "menu" button at the top left to show the menu choices that are two small to fit across the screen in this view:
You can easily see the dynamic resizing in action on your computer if you go to Congress.gov and drag the corner of your window to make it smaller.
You can access a wealth of legislative information at Congress.gov, including the text of bills, bill summary and status, and profiles of Members of Congress. The Congressional Record will be added soon, but note that the Library of Congress already has a free app that lets you view the CR on an iPhone or iPad.
If you want a more traditional look, Congress.gov lets you view PDF versions of bills and laws:
Easy to access, public information about congressional activity is of course essential if you are a governmental relations lawyer, but it is also important for the rest of us too. Kudos to Andrew Weber and the rest of the tech-savvy folks at the Library of Congress for working to keep the legislative process open so that U.S. citizens have the opportunity to be informed.