Along with fashion, tech gear and exciting entertainment options popping back into the news after a relatively quiet summer, Congress is back in session. Love them or hate them, the legislative branch of the government make the laws around here, but the process can sometimes be a little confusing and unwieldy. If you want to know what’s going out there in Washington, here are a few resources that may help:
- Congress for Android and iOS is a free app that lets you find your Congressional representative, checkout new and active legislation, see who’s sponsoring current bills, keep tabs on the social media coming out of his or her office and see how people voted on bills and laws.
- The Library of Congress puts out its own app version of the Congressional Record for iOS devices.
- The US Constitution is also available as a free app for Android and iOS (iPhone and iPad).
- If you’d rather listen than read about what’s going on. The free C-SPAN Radio app for Android, BlackBerry and iOS delivers audio streams of Congressional speeches and hearings, as well as public affairs programming. You can also hear author interviews from the Book TV folks over there on C-SPAN 2.
- On the Web, you can look up past and present bills, resolutions and other legislative information in the Thomas database on the Web. Named after Thomas Jefferson, you can search the text of bills, download copies of said bills, check out roll call votes and contact members of Congress if you have something to say. The database has a number of other extras, including the original text of The Federalist Papers.
- If that’s not enough for you, you can also find other official documents on the Web site of the US Government Printing Office. Here, you can find the Code of Federal Regulations, the monthly Economic Indicators, judicial opinions from US courts, the Federal Register and other reading material. There’s even both a text and a PDF version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law that’s casually known as Obamacare. (Gotta warn you, though, it’s a 906-page PDF file.)
The inefficiency of Congress is nothing new, but at least with apps and other sources of information, it’s much easier to get information — and even participate in the democratic process itself. We the People, indeed.