How we’re updating Sunlight’s legislative APIs for 2015


The US Capitol building is pictured at dusk in the wintertime.

It’s that time again. Elections are over and a key question has been rolling in from those of you that use our legislative APIs: When can I expect to see the newly elected officials in the data?

Sunlight’s Congress API, Open States API and Open Civic Data API will be updating starting in January as new members are sworn in and their information becomes available. Typically we’re able to get these changes live within a few days of the information becoming available online. Of course, between holidays and the fact that many of the official sources can lag somewhat (especially as new members take time to get their official pages and such set up) all we can guarantee is that it will happen as quickly as possible.

The other important thing to note as we head into 2015: If you’re using one of our older Congress APIs, you’ll definitely need to update, or your code will break. Again, as announced in 2013the original Sunlight Congress API and Real Time Congress API will cease to exist in January of 2015.

If you want periodic updates as the migration happens follow @sunlightlabs on Twitter.


For the busy, here’s a FAQ:

### When will Sunlight’s Congress API have information on the 114th congress?

We aim to have this information available as close to Jan. 3rd (the swearing in date) as possible.

### When will Open States/Open Civic Data have updated information for my state?

With more than fifty legislative bodies to track, Open States can often take a bit more time to update for a new session than the Congress API. Our Open States team will be working hard to update states as soon as possible, and we’ll be providing state-by-state updates via the @openstates Twitter account.

### I don’t think I use the latest version of the Congress API. Is that bad?

As we announced in 2013, the original Congress API and Real Time Congress API are being turned off in January of 2015. If you aren’t using the `` endpoints then your code will stop working in January.

Fortunately there is a migration guide to help you get switched over. You’ll find the new APIs just as powerful and easy to use, and they have a lot of great new features too.

### Is there any way I can help?

You’re awesome for asking! While there is a whirlwind of activity, and we often don’t have time to coordinate volunteer efforts, it is still possible to contribute. If you’re interested in doing so please consider emailing the Sunlight API mailing list. You might also want to check out the unitedstates/congress-legislators repository, the upstream source of the Congress API’s legislator information. Similarly, consider checking out the unitedstates/contact-congress repository to help ensure that Sunlight (and other organizations) can continue to connect people to their members of Congress.