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How to know the Senate better through data visualization

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The shutdown has been averted. The debt ceiling has been raised. For now. In the process, Congress’ public approval has fallen to around 10 percent – and as low as 5 percent in one poll. But how much do you know about who actually serves in Congress? How do you know who to even disapprove of? Today, we unveil a new interactive tool that will allow you to get to know the U.S. Senate a little better. While it’s easy to focus on prominent Senate leaders like Harry Reid (D-Nev.) or Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or prominent grandstanders like Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), we think it matters who our 100 senators are: What are their backgrounds? What is their education? What did they do before coming to the Senate? Who do they depend on most to support their campaigns? All of these factors shape how they collectively make decisions. For this reason, we’ve created an interactive tool that allows you to explore the U.S. Senate. You can see how Senators break down across a wide variety of dimensions.

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Government shutdown muddies transparency in NJ Senate race

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On the eve of New Jersey's special election for U.S. Senate, outside groups have been bombarding Jersyites with political ads and canvassing efforts as both sides make final pleas to voters in a tightening race -- even the President got in on the action. But one thing Garden State voters will not see before they visit their local ballot box is a full picture of the candidates' campaign contributions. Like a lot of problems in Washington these days, this one can be chalked up to the government shutdown.

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The Library of Congress Really Really Does Not Want To Give You Your Data

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Library of Congress It's 2013, and the Library of Congress seems to think releasing public data about Congress is a risk to the public. The Library of Congress is in charge of [THOMAS.gov](http://thomas.loc.gov/), and its successor [Congress.gov](http://congress.gov). These sites publish some of the most fundamental information about Congress — the history and status of bills. Whether it's immigration law or SOPA, patent reform or Obamacare, the Library of Congress will tell you: *What is Congress working on? Who's working on it? When did that happen?* Except they won't let you download that information.

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