I hope you have been having a memorable summer. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many of my family and friends have come through and near Milwaukee. We are gearing up for the first Republican debates to be held here on August 23rd. This debate in Milwaukee is only the first Republican debate of the 2024 presidential election cycle. Then the Republican Convention will be held here from July 15-18, 2024. That should make next summer very interesting.
Since my last post there have been more research updates from the awesome librarians at the Law Library of Congress and the Government Publishing Office.
GPO and OMB Issued Guidance for Congressionally Mandated Reports: 6.21.2023
“Federal agencies are now required by law to submit congressionally mandated reports to the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) by the end of the year. Today, GPO and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a memo providing guidance to Federal agencies. The memo outlines instructions and deadlines for compliance with this mandate, including information about reports that are exempt from submission to GPO. The reports will be published and made available to the public on GPO’s online system, GovInfo (https://www.govinfo.gov/). When fully deployed, this will be the first time congressionally mandated reports will be accessible to the public in one place. Under this new requirement, agencies will also continue to submit printed, signed copies of mandated reports to Congressional committees and subcommittees.” Link to memo: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/M-23-17-Access-to-Congressionally-Mandated-Reports-Act-Implementation-Guidance.pdf .
The Law Library of Congress continues to improve Congress.gov. On June 5 they posted this update on their In Custodia Legis blog:
“In the previous release, Andrew mentioned that the Bound Congressional Record on Congress.gov now provides coverage dating back to December of 1873. In this release, we have added labels to help the user distinguish between historical documents and historical bill texts.
Since the Bound Congressional Record now provides coverage dating back to December of 1873, that means you can now research debates concerning historic legislation, such as the 1875 Civil Rights Act.
That act, among other things, desegregated public accommodations. The U.S. Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional in a case known as the Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883). The desegregation of public accommodations was later revived, almost a century later, in Title 2 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That provision was also challenged in Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964), but this time the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it.
I decided to see if I could locate content in the Bound Congressional Record that would illustrate the debates surrounding the 1875 Civil Rights Act. I used the drop down menu on the homepage to select “Congressional Record.” Next, I typed in “civil rights” and clicked search. I placed civil rights in quotation marks to search for it as an exact phrase. Next, I used the Congress filter on the left to select the 43rd Congress (1873-1875). Finally, I went up to the top of the screen, and underneath the search box, I selected “show keywords in context” so I could preview my search terms as they appear underneath each search result so that I could quickly decide if the result is relevant to me before clicking on it.
As you can see from this list of search results, there is plenty of relevant content to explore, including this debate, starting on page 407, that occurred on January 6th, 1874, and which featured Rep. Robert Elliott, a formerly enslaved person, debating Rep. Alexander Stephens, the former Vice President of the Confederacy, on the subject of civil rights.”
On June 26 they posted a follow up about summer enhancements on the In Custudio Legis blog:
“Robert shared information about the latest Congress.gov release earlier this June. We have been hard at work with a new set of enhancements and behind the scenes improvements. The committee profile alerts have been updated to include the bill sponsor when you are emailed. Now when you download your legislation search results, you can check “Number of Related Bills” to have those included in your spreadsheet. It is also easier to search nominations using the PN numbers search box.
Behind the scenes, we have worked with our Senate data partners to modernize how nomination data is sent from them to Congress.gov. We recently completed modernizing how we get treaty documents data from them. We also continue to improve the Congress.gov API with the goal of removing the beta label on it this fall.
For June, the Congress.gov enhancements include:
Enhancement – Committee Profile – Alerts
- Bill sponsors are included in committee profile alerts.
Enhancement – Legislation – Download Search Results
- You can include the number of related bills when downloading legislation search results.
Enhancement – Nominations – Search
- In the PN numbers search box, you can use a nomination citation that includes the Congress, such as 118PN345.
For an overview of how to find a bill on Congress.gov, watch this short video.”
Then on July 17th they posted another update on their blog.
“In June, Andrew mentioned that committee profile alerts have been updated to include the bill sponsor when you are emailed. Also, when you download your legislation search results, you can check “Number of Related Bills” to have those included in your spreadsheet. Also, it is now easier to search nominations using the PN numbers search box.
In this release, we have added email alerts for treaty documents. To sign up, just click “get alerts” at the top of any treaty document page to receive an email when an action is taken on that treaty or when an amendment is added. In addition, on Committee Schedule Meeting pages, when an amendment is related to the topic of the hearing, that amendment will be displayed and linked to from that page. Finally, now that the Bound Congressional Record provides coverage dating back to December of 1873 (the 43rd Congress), the Congress.gov Browse Page now includes this content.
You can now click “get alerts” at the top of a treaty document page to get email alerts when an action is taken on a treaty or when an amendment is added.
New – Treaty Documents – Alerts
- Sign in to your account to subscribe to an alert from any active treaty document page.
- You will receive an email whenever there is Senate action on the treaty.
- Manage your treaty document alerts from your account page.
Enhancement – Bound Congressional Record – Browse
- Link from the Browse by Congress page to view bound Congressional Record volumes by date starting with the 43rd Congress.
Enhancement – Committee Meetings – Related Amendments
- Related amendments display in committee meeting overviews.
You can sign up to receive an email alert each Monday with the projected committee meeting schedule for the coming week. Visit the weekly view of the Committee Schedule Meeting page, and click “get weekly alerts” at the top of the page.”
Next on July 20 there was a post updating the status of the online Foreign Legal Gazette collection. “This spring, the Law Library of Congress has added three new foreign legal gazette collections to our website for the countries of Costa Rica, Gabon, and Ecuador. This recap continues our quarterly series from fall 2022 and winter 2023.”
Then on July 26 there was a post about the Congressional Research Service’s Guide for the Constitution Annotated. “One of the challenges for any researcher tackling questions of constitutional interpretation is knowing where to start. The Congressional Research Service’s (CRS) Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (or “Constitution Annotated”) serves as the official legal treatise on the constitution, offering a comprehensive, authoritative, and nonpartisan analysis of the most important document in American history. This year marks the publication of the latest decennial edition and the fourth anniversary of the Constitution Annotated website. As part of this anniversary, CRS has produced a new research guide dedicated to helping the general reader navigate and understand the Constitution Annotated, whether they are congressional staffers, seasoned attorneys, university students, or anyone interested in the Constitution and how it relates to current issues.
This research guide walks the reader through the Constitution Annotated website; the methodology behind its component essays; additional resources created by CRS, including a comprehensive table of cases cited in all essays, a table of overruled Supreme Court decisions, sets of introductory essays, and a topical guide for each section of the Constitution and its amendments. The Constitution Annotated research guide will be regularly updated as new essays and resources are added and edited.
Researchers of all backgrounds can use this research guide to delve into this unique and important treatise and further their understanding of how America’s founding document relates to current Supreme Court cases and discussions surrounding constitutional issues.”
Finally on August 7, there was another update to Congress.gov posted on the blog. “In July, Robert shared news about the new treaty document email alerts. He also shared that we added Browse pages back to the 43rd Congress that included the Bound Congressional Record. We have done a lot of work over the recent months to add historical material and make it more accessible. With this release there are two big updates. We now have Browse pages going back to the first Congress. Additionally, on the Debates of Congress section from the 1st through 18th Congresses, you can now access PDFs of the Annals of Congress. We are continuing to migrate the debates from Century of Lawmaking to Congress.gov and this is another step toward that goal.
The August Congress.gov enhancements include:
Enhancement – Browse – Historical Congresses
- You can navigate to browse pages for available Congresses starting with the 1st Congress.
- Open the Debates of Congress accordion to link to Annals of Congress PDFs from the 1st through 18th
Enhancement – Committee Meetings – Schedule Alerts
- Committee meeting schedule alerts indicate when a meeting is being held virtually.
It is just a few quick steps to add a Congress.gov icon to your phone. When on the website homepage, click share at the bottom of the screen. Then select “Add to Home Screen.” Finally, select “Add.” We did a post on this a few years ago that now has some dated screen shots.”