Govtrack.us is a site aimed at shedding light on the often byzantine operations of Washington. And it seems remarkably useful for doing so. It’s a portal to a comprehensive database of legislation that is either in the works or recently passed.
Each legislator has his or her own page with personal info and a list of all of the bills they have recently sponsored. For instance, Sen. Ted Stevens’ page shows that he sponsored Bill S. 94, the Gasoline Consumer Anti-price-gouging Protection Act, which was introduced in January 2007, while Sen. Barack Obama was sponsoring the Oil SENSE Act, and Sen. John McCain was sponsoring the Cell Phone Tax Moratorium Act.
You can also search by bill or by subject. For instance, a search for “TARP” (the memorable acronym for the Wall St. Bailout bill) brings up the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. It turns out this Act began its life not when Lehman Bros. went under, but rather on March 9, 2007 when it was called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. In October 2008, “it was co-opted as the so-called “vehicle” to pass the relief bill with an amendment that rewrites the whole bill.”
You can even sign up for RSS feeds, or set up your own tracker to follow the progress of any specific legislator or piece of legislation.
This is only one of a number of other American sites set up to track legislators and legislation in this manner. Another which seems interesting but I have not explored much is opencongress.org, which provides similar features.
Do any of our readers know of any similar tools in Canada?