March 12, 2007
THOMAS tool can help track
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON Keeping track of how your
representative or senator voted, what bills he has introduced or
the status of other legislation is easy with the help of a
research tool named after Thomas Jefferson.
THOMAS system, launched by the Library of Congress in 1995, offers
easy access to information on legislation, activities in Congress
and even presidential nominations and treaties.
by going to:
want to find out how Reps. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, or
Zack Space, D-Dover, voted on the latest legislation to go before
Congress. Scroll to the bottom of the home page and click on "roll
call votes." Under "House," click on "1st session" of "110th."
you is a list of bills voted on during the past few days. It shows
the bill number, title and whether it passed (P) or failed (F).
Click on the roll call number at the far left for a breakdown of
how each lawmaker voted.
information on the bill, click on the bill number hyperlink.
can be done for senators.
you want to look up information on a bill that hasn't been voted
"search bill text," put in the bill number or a keyword. For
example, say you need information on H.R. 198, a bill to preserve
the name of Mount McKinley that was introduced by Regula. Write in
"hr 198," click on "bill number" and then click "search." THOMAS
will display the bill text and several options for additional
information. Click on "bill summary and status" for a list of
sponsors, a summary of the bill and its status. (This one has been
referred to a committee, but not yet voted on by that committee.)
the legislation that a lawmaker has introduced, go to the "browse
bills by sponsor" feature and use the drop-down menu to find the
lawmaker's name and click on it. Links to the bills introduced
during the current legislative session appear.
legislation is passed and signed into law, it becomes a "public
law." Public laws are categorized within the two-year
congressional session when they became law. Say you want to find
out which bills sponsored by Regula became law during the
2005-2006 (109th) session.
"public laws," then on "109," then on "view." A list of all laws
enacted during this time appears. Under the "edit" function at top
of screen, click on "find on this page," write in "Regula" and
click again. The tool will highlight Regula's name in each law
where he served as the sponsor.