UPDATE: Starting with the first quarter of 2016, the House is now publishing disbursement data in a searchable CSV format. We applaud the House for taking this great step forward for transparency, and it means we'll no longer have to provide the files on this page. Read our blog post here for more info, and download the latest quarterly reports directly from the House disbursements site.
Ever wonder what newspapers your representative in Congress subscribes to? Or how many staffers your member has hired and how much they’re paid? How much Congress spends on computers, office supplies and travel? Want to know what the House and Senate Appropriations Committees — which write the bills that spend over a trillion dollars — paid for Deer Park bottled water?
The answers to all those questions and more can be found in Sunlight's Congressional Expenditure Reports Database.
For the House, we've parsed PDF files from Q3 2009 — Q4 2015 that contain the quarterly Statement of Disbursements posted by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer. The database contains records for all offices — members of Congress, legislative offices (like the House Clerk’s Office) and House committees. Sunlight had long advocated for these reports to be available online, and applauded the House when it first posted them in November 2009.
For the Senate, it's a bit trickier: We need to parse line items from the Senate disbursements, 1,800-page PDF files that are released every six months. Unlike the House, the Senate's data is harder to parse, and it has no plans to release this disbursement information in a machine-readable format. For the direct documents and the methodology, see our blog post about it.
If you need some guidance on digging into the data, check out this slideshow from a Sunlight training webinar on how to navigate the database. You can also read this post that explains discrepancies with how Congress reports lawmakers' spending, and gives guidelines on how to use the data. (For example: The information within has not been standardized, meaning that "AT&T" might also appear as "A.T.&T.", so aggregation on the “Payee” and “Recip” fields may not return complete totals.)
For some examples of how this data can be used, check out Sunlight's analyses of congressional capacity during reduced operating budgets and staff turnover among members' offices.
The House started publishing its expenditures as CSV files in Q1 2016. You can find them here.