It used to be that us outsiders never exactly knew when a bill was going to come up for a vote. But thanks to recent developments in the House we can be more involved in the legislative process in the crucial days before a bill comes to a vote.
GovTrack’s new Docket page and Coming Up feed give you a heads-up about bills coming up in the House and Senate. We’re also tweeting the upcoming bills and posting them to our Facebook page as they are posted. For instance, we just tweeted that H.R. 4119: Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012 and a handful of other bills were added on Friday to the House’s schedule for next week.
The House schedule is based on a new House website called docs.house.gov that came online this past January thanks to the work of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Office of the Clerk, the Committee on House Administration, and the Speaker’s office. The Senate schedule is based on the Floor Schedule for the next day published on Senate.gov.
The new docs.house.gov website is a major milestone for legislative transparency. For the first time, House leadership is not only committing to a rough schedule a week in advance but is also publishing the schedule in a re-usable, machine-processable format that allows websites like GovTrack to include the information quickly and reliably. Which we’ve done.
We’ve been pushing Congress to share more information in technologically-enabled ways for the last five years. This new docs.house.gov website came out of a pledge from Cantor’s office about a year ago to make more legislative data available. It was a response to the concerns we raised along with a handful of other government transparency organizations. While there’s much more legislative data we want, docs.house.gov is itself a laudable milestone.