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The Student Side of the The Challenge of Democracy Site
Updated March 10, 2017

Internet Links for Chapter 11: Congress

Chapter 11 discusses the powers of Congress and the process of making legislation. Although the Framers made Congress as the "first branch" of government and regarded it as the bulwark of democratic government, polls show that the public today have a low opinion of Congress. Perhaps these links will help you understand it better.

Congress via Thomas
THOMAS was launched in January of 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. It gives access to Bills, Resolutions Activity in Congress, Congressional Record Schedules, Calendars, Committee Information, Presidential Nominations, Treaties, and Government Resources for Teachers (and students).
Congress via GovTrack
" is a tool by Civic Impulse, LLC to help the public research and follow legislation in the United States Congress and the state legislatures. Our goal is to promote and innovate government transparency, civic engagement, and civic education through novel uses of technology." Many people think that GovTrack is easier to use than Thomas.
Published by the Dirksen Congressional Center, it provides information about the U.S. Congress -- how it works, its members and leaders, and the public policies it produces.
U.S. Senate History
The Senate's Historical Office collects and provides information on important events, precedents, dates, statistics, and historical comparisons of current and past Senate activities for use by members and staff, the media, scholars, and the general public.
Clerk of the House
Compared with Thomas (above), this site is oriented more toward individual House members, including election results.
Library of Congress
"The Library's mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people." That said, it is a public library too.
Learning Page of the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's vast digital collections in their teaching.
Contacting the Congress
An up-to-date citizen's congressional directory for the 112th Congress. As of September 01, 2011 there are 538 electronic contact addresses (of which 535 are Web-based contact forms), and 538 home pages known for the 540 members of the 112th Congress.
VoteSmart: Interest Group Ratings of Members of Congress
Project Vote Smart reports on performance evaluations from all special interest groups who provide them, regardless of issue or bias. Descriptions of organizations are derived from the mission statement or description produced by each organization. Project Vote Smart does not evaluate or edit these descriptions.
Congressional Budget Office Home Page
The CBO provides objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget and
CQ Electronic Library
CQ Press (formerly, Congressional quarterly) publishes widely on U.S. national politics. Unfortunately, virtually everything costs, but but students may have access to CQ publications through their institutional libraries. Here you can see what CQ offers.
Public Citizen's Congress Watch
Champions consumer interests before the U.S. Congress and serves as a government watchdog. "We engage in public education and advocacy, and are focused on the following:
-Strengthening health, safety and financial protections. Our work in this area covers consumer financial protection, patient safety, consumer product safety, auto safety and worker safety.
- Ensuring access to the courts to hold corporations accountable for wrongdoing. Our work in this area covers forced arbitration, whistleblower protections, medical liability, preserving state consumer laws (pre-emption) and court secrecy.
- Strengthening our democracy by exposing and combating the harmful impact of money in politics. Our work in this area focuses on money in politics, government ethics, lobbying reform and open government.