The Real Time Congress API


Today we’re making available the Real Time Congress API, a service we’ve been working on for several months, and will be continuing to expand.

The Real Time Congress API (RTC) is a RESTful API over the artifacts of Congress, kept up to date in as close to real time as possible. It consists of several live feeds of data, available in JSON or XML. These feeds are filterable and sortable and sliceable in all sorts of different ways, and you can read the docs to see how.

RTC replaces and deprecates the Drumbone API, which is no longer recommended for use.

Right now, the feeds in the Real Time Congress API are:

  • Floor Updates: Updates from the floor of the House and Senate. These are updated every 5 minutes. If a bill, legislator, or vote is mentioned, identifiers will be extracted and included as structured data so that it can be linked to other RTC feeds and other APIs.

  • Videos: Video from the floor of the House, as resyndicated by We don’t host the video, but we use HouseLive’s live feed of associated floor updates to break the day-long videos up into clips. Despite the name “Real Time Congress”, this feed also contains links to archived, live, and upcoming White House video from White House Live.

  • Committee Hearings: Upcoming and past committee hearings in the House and Senate. For the Senate, we use their official listings that are updated throughout the day. For the House, we use GovTrack’s bulk data.

  • Bills: Bills and resolutions in Congress. This data is the least “real time”, updated daily from, through THOMAS. This includes all sorts of metadata, timeline information, votes on passage, official keywords, history, and associated committees, amendments, and sponsors.

  • Amendments: Amendments to bills. Like bills, these come from through THOMAS, and so are a day behind.

  • Votes: Votes taken by the House and Senate bodies. For the Senate, this data is taken from their live feed and is updated every 20 minutes. For the House, it’s taken from their own live feed and is updated every few minutes. In addition to those roll call votes, any voice votes taken on passage of legislation will also appear in this feed, but this comes from THOMAS and is a day behind.

  • Documents: This feed will contain links to all sorts of documents, as they are published, by various agencies within Congress, and from outside Congress regarding legislation. Right now though, this only includes “whip notices”, which are informal schedules of impending floor activity. We have House Republican and House Democratic whip notices. We’ll be rapidly adding different kinds of documents and reports to this feed over the coming months.

You can expect to see much of the data in the Real Time Congress API start appearing in our websites and applications (such as our Android and iOS apps) in the months ahead. In fact, StreamCongress is already using the RTC API for floor updates.

But we hope it starts appearing in your own apps too! As with our other projects, anyone with a Sunlight Labs API key can use it freely. If you have any questions, feel free to raise them on our API discussion list.