Monday, 13 February 2017

Following Congress

For newer readers of Washminster - a short guide to following events in Congress.

The best resources come from the Houses and Senate themselves.

House of Representatives

The website can be found at http://www.house.gov There is lots of background information. Click on the tabs underneath the main header

- Members of the House [Representatives] - the district (UK - constituency); name; party; Office - do see the 'Key to Room Codes' on that page - and in future posts I will give some of the background to each of the Office Buildings); Telephone number; and the Committees that each member sits on. This page can be listed alphabetically either by State or by Members' last name.

- Leadership - Names (with pictures) of the leadership of each of the two parties. Currently the Republicans (also referred to sometimes as the G.O.P.) are the Majority, and the Democrats are the Minority.

- Committees - these are the powerful workhorses of the House. Woodrow Wilson (when writing as a scholar, before he became President) wrote that "The House sits, not for serious discussion, but to sanction the conclusions of its committees as rapidly as possible. It legislates in its committee rooms...". They are much more powerful than Westminster committees - although the power of the Leadership (the Speaker) has greatly increased in recent decades.

- Legislative Activity - This page has key links to resources enabling the House to be followed from off Capitol Hill - and indeed across the world. You can look ahead with the House calendar (the coming year); the more immediate schedule; keep up to date with the day's business as it happens - Floor proceedings.  The live streaming of committee meetings and hearings can be found at https://www.congress.gov/committees/video When the day is over, you can read the Daily Digest of the Congressional Record for the previous day (and other dates).

- The House Explained - is a good resource for learning about the House and how it works.

The Rules Committee has on its website, a 'parliamentary Bootcamp' - which provides an excellent course on House practice and procedure.


The Senate website is https://www.senate.gov. The red tabs take you to -

- A list of Senators, with key information about each. It also tells you which 'class' they are - this tells you when they are up for re-election. Class 1 Senators are up for re-election in November 2018.


- Legislation and Records - allows you to search by bill number and track floor activity; and using the blue sidebar you can follow other Senate activities - such as confirmations and Treaty ratifications. The Senate calendar and Floor Schedule can be accessed at https://www.senate.gov/legislative/calendars.htm 

Other red tabs take you to information about the Seanate's history; the art it contains; advice on visiting the Senate; and other reference material.

The Senate website is compact - so worth exploring the various links on the site - because there is a host of information to be uncovered.

The Media

To watch Congress - C-SPAN is the place to head to. Again it is a website worth exploring. As well as live streams from the House and Senate - there is a vast, searchable, video library. This not only covers proceedings within Congress - but programmes about history, the courts, and political issues. I hope to produce a post shortly just on C-SPAN.

Congress has three main newspapers devoted to it - and they each have websites. You can subscribe to newsletters and alerts from each of them. They are

The Hill

I'm a big fan of (even if President Trump isn't), and a subscriber to

The Washington Post
New York Times