E-Advocacy: Meet THOMAS
By Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
Advocacy & Community Outreach Consultant
Update: The Library of Congress revamped Thomas. It it now known as Congress.gov.
THOMAS is a site run by the Library of Congress with the goal of enabling citizens to have access to legislative information. The site was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson. You can look up current legislation, bills from previous Congresses, as well as learn about the legislative process.
Because of the time it takes to log information, THOMAS does not have records going back to the start of Congress. THOMAS has information on treaties going back to 1967, bill summaries and statuses going back to 1973, House roll calls from 1990 to today and Senate roll calls going back to 1989, and current floor calendars for both houses. You will also find committee reports from 1995 through today. THOMAS also features links to live video feeds of the House and Senate.
On THOMAS you can look up legislation either by using the bill number or a keyword. You can also browse by bill sponsor. Once you locate the bill you can read it in its entirety. You can also see all the actions taken on the bill including committee hearings and whether or not it has been added to the calendar for a debate or vote.
THOMAS features a learning section where you can look up terminology and learn more about the legislative process. You can also learn more about the Supreme Court and access other historical documents.