Reintroducing OpenCongress: Now From The Sunlight Foundation


OpenCongress, the site that enables anyone to follow and explore the activities of Congress, is now proudly operated by the Sunlight Foundation. The Participatory Politics Foundation originally launched OpenCongress in 2007 and built it into a leading comprehensive, nonpartisan source for legislative information used by millions. Today, the Sunlight Foundation unveils the next stage for the project with refreshed code and a continuing commitment to build on the strong core functionality. The importance of providing this information freely and reliably to the public are the goals that led Sunlight to be a founding and primary supporter of the site. Those ideals continue as Sunlight adds new data and features that empower citizens to learn more about and engage with their government.

OpenCongress is a free, open source and nonpartisan resource that collects the official congressional information daily from Capitol Hill and gives users powerful ways to browse the data, provides important contextual tools to learn about their government and the ability to connect with other citizens and share their thoughts with legislators. Over the years, the users of OpenCongress have created a vibrant community of individuals who self-organize using the Groups feature, discuss the issues they care about and contact their members of Congress. Some of the features on the refreshed OpenCongress site include:

  • Representatives and Senators — See a profile of every lawmaker. Through OpenCongress you can call or message their offices, track their votes and bill sponsorships, connect with their official social media accounts, see recent fundraisers, watch their YouTube videos and review campaign donations.
  • Votes — See the “ayes” and “nays” broken down by political party for all floor actions and compare two lawmakers to one another using the Head-to-Head tool.
  • Issues — Find bills by more than 4,000 issue areas using the classification system designed by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan think tank of Congress. Create a widget for an issue you’re interested in and customize it to add to your own website.
  • Committees — Follow the work of House and Senate committees and see what members serve on each one. Find bills the committee is considering, reports they issue and delve into the activities of subcommittees. Seapower!
  • Groups — OpenCongress has a built-in social network to connect users around a certain issue or location. When you register for the site you will automatically join the group for your state and congressional district, but please browse the hundreds of groups already in existence by keyword, issue area or popularity. Or create your own! Current users of OpenCongress will see no changes to their accounts.

All these features are now stronger than ever and will continue to improve as the Sunlight Foundation invests more energy in future iterations. To learn more about the reintroduction and explore OpenCongress, register here for a webinar on November 5th. Please share your thoughts on what you’d like to see us work on by getting in touch with us here. Sunlight’s sole ownership of OpenCongress allowed us to refresh the data that powers that site. Bill, legislator, committee, vote, campaign finance and issue data are collected from a variety of sources, including the Library of Congress, GovTrack, Congressional Research Service and the Sunlight Foundation. The site is updated daily and searchable since the start of the 109th Congress in January 2005. For those with smart phones, check out the Sunlight’s Congress apps for Android and iPhone. Developers interested in using the data on OpenCongress should check out the Sunlight Foundation’s APIs and can contribute to the open source project on GitHub here.