Howdy y’all! So to keep this somewhat short I divided this post into 2 parts. I did how to setup an account and covered the House in Part 1. In Part 2, I will cover the Senate and how to track a bill. Hopefully y’all will feel comfortable navigating the site and make it part of your fact-finding when tracking down things you hear on the news.
Following the Senate
The Senate and The House run very differently. The Senate tends to have more “on the floor” debates. They don’t have the same limits that the House does about on the floor debate so the minority party can actually hold up/stall things for significant lengths of time. This is even more prevalent when there is a significant majority held by either party that hold the votes to pass things without the other party. It really pays to follow bills here because sometimes you actually have time to reach out to your Senator while it is in process to let them know you approve or disapprove.
On the main page of Congress.Gov you will find the Current Legislative Activities section smack dab in the middle. This is the easiest place to get the immediate day’s activities.
- On the Senate Floor : Takes you to a memo type of post that will give you the low down on what happened at the session that just ended (or the one currently happening–depending on when you click on the link) with links to the bills and nominations discussed.
- Committee Hearings Schedule: Much like the House-this will allow you to know when certain Committees are meeting for the week. Each link will take you out to the committee landing page. Some are closed meetings and some are open just depends on what is being discussed.
- Executive Communications: The Senate is in charge of relaying Presidential Communications.
- Nominations: These are nominations for political offices that have to be confirmed by The Senate.
- Treaty Documents: Curious about treaties with different countries? Here is where you go to read the fine print. These are daunting in length but if you are truly curious worth the read!
United States Senate Site
The Senate also has a separate site that gives you a portal into more about their action, history, and members.
- Senators: This will give you each Senator and their contact information
- Committees: This will give you each committee and links to their sites. On the individual committee sites you can find out who the members are so that you can reach out to them about issues.
- Legislation: Missed a day? Want to see what has happened so far? This is where you go to get historical data for the Senate. It will give you some great “how-to” guides on looking up old bills and such.
- Art & History: As a history buff I really like this part of the site. It really is great information for those curious about the History of the Senate. There is also a section about Art if you are into that as well.
- Visitor: Want to visit the Senate? Here is where you find information on where to go, what you need, and how to get the most out of your visit.
- Reference: It is exactly that–a reference site.
Finally: How to follow bills
Probably the best tool Congress.Gov has is the ability to get alerts on bills that you want to track. After you have signed up for an account on the site, following a bill is pretty easy but is NOT easy to spot.
Let’s assume I am really interested in tracking the name change for this clinic. If you look right after the title you will see a little link that says “get alerts”
Voila! I am now tracking this bill as it makes its way through Congress. It is as simple as that!!!
Now say you want to see what all your tracking: click on the top right hand corner and click on Alerts.
There you can manage the alerts including adding your own description. This is such an awesome feature that will send the alerts directly to your email. Easy Peasy!
Last but not Least
I really hope that this series of posts helps you to feel empowered to track the information that means the most to you. Not every single thing the Government does is going to mean the world to you and this is a great way to track those things that do.
During her off time, you can find her hanging with her rescue furr children named after book characters: Lizzie a beautiful cattle dog mix (Pound Pup), Cinder a beautiful Shep/Pitt mix (Pound Pup), and Minerva Shep/Pitt mix (Foster Fail). Gathering with friends and family, attending conventions, watching movies/tv shows, rooting for the 49rs, and crocheting.
She also blogs at Geeky Bloggers Book Blog) and Mess to Best).
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