Real_Time_Congress_API / bills

The bills collection holds all introduced bills and resolutions in Congress.

Bill IDs

Bill IDs are a combination of the type of bill, the bill number, and the session of Congress a bill was introduced in. They are of the format:

[type][number]-[session]

For example, H.R. 4173 from the 111th Congress would be "hr4173-111".

Guaranteed fields

The only fields you can assume are present are:

  • bill_id
  • bill_type
  • number
  • code
  • session
  • chamber
  • abbreviated

Abbreviated bills

Since information on new votes is published much more quickly than information on new bills, it's possible that for bills quickly introduced and voted upon, we may encounter a vote on a bill whose full information is not available.

In this case, as a convenience, we will create an "abbreviated" bill document with as much information as can be gleaned from the vote, and will set the "abbreviated" field to true. If "abbreviated" is false, then you can expect much more information to be present, such as sponsorship, timeline information, and Congressional actions.

In practice, Senate vote information include the official and short titles of the bill being voted upon, so for some abbreviated bills, the "official_title" and "short_title" fields may also be present.

Text search fields

If the "search" parameter is passed to the API, a case-insensitive pattern match of the given string is applied to the following fields:

  • short_title
  • official_title
  • popular_title
  • keywords
  • summary

Types of Bills

  • hr - House bills ("H.R.")
  • hres - House resolutions ("H.Res")
  • hjres - House joint resolutions ("H.J.Res")
  • hcres - House concurrent resolutions ("H.C.Res" or "H.Con.Res")
  • s - Senate bills ("S.")
  • sres - Senate resolutions ("S.Res")
  • sjres - Senate joint resolutions ("S.J.Res")
  • scres - Senate concurrent resolutions ("S.C.Res" or "S.Con.Res")

Fields

bill_id
Unique ID. (See above list for how to construct the ID.)
bill_type
Type of bill. (See above list for what the types mean.)
number
The number of the bill. (For example, HR 4173's number is 4173.)
session
The session of Congress this bill was introduced in.
chamber
The chamber of Congress this bill originated in.
short_title
An officially designated "short title" of a bill. Not all bills have this. (e.g. "Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2010")
official_title
The official title of a bill. Almost all bills have one of these.
popular_title
An officially designated "popular title" (i.e. "Health care reform bill") for a bill. Very uncommon (there were 4 in the 111th Congress).
titles
An array of objects containing all short, official, and popular titles to the bill, and when the titles were made.
summary
An official summary of the bill, if the Congressional Research Service has written one.
sponsor_id
Bioguide ID for the legislator sponsoring the bill.
sponsor
Object containing basic data about the legislator sponsoring the bill.
cosponsor_ids
An array of bioguide IDs for the legislators cosponsoring the bill.
cosponsors
An array of objects containing basic data about the legislators cosponsoring the bill.
committee_ids
An array of committee IDs for committees which have some relation to this bill.
committees
An array of objects, keyed by committee ID, which give basic details about each committee that has some relation to this bill, and what kind of role the committee has in regards to it.
amendment_ids
An array of IDs of introduced amendments to this bill, that refer to documents in the amendments collection.
amendments
An array of basic information about introduced amendments to this bill.
amendments_count
The number of amendments to this bill that have been introduced.
keywords
An array of official keywords and phrases that categorize the bill.
actions
An array of all actions upon a bill, in sequence. Fields described below.
last_action
The last action to happen to a bill.
last_action_at
(timestamp) The time of the last action to happen to a bill.
passage_votes
An array of objects containing details on passage votes taken on the bill. Fields described below.
passage_votes_count
The number of passage votes taken on this bill.
last_passage_vote_at
(timestamp) Last time a passage vote was taken on a bill.
related_bills
A hash where the keys are the type of relation, and the values are arrays of bill IDs.
introduced_at
(timestamp) When a bill was introduced. **Default order for this collection.**
senate_passage_result
The result of a Senate passage vote on the bill, if one was taken. "pass", "fail", or null.
senate_passage_result_at
(timestamp) When the Senate last voted on passage of the bill, if it did.
house_passage_result
The result of a House passage vote on the bill, if one was taken. "pass", "fail", or null.
house_passage_result_at
(timestamp) When the House last voted on passage of the bill, if it did.
awaiting_signature
(boolean) Whether a bill is **currently** awaiting the president's signature. Becomes false once the bill is vetoed or enacted.
awaiting_signature_since
(timestamp) When a bill began awaiting the president's signature, if it has been. Unset once the bill is enacted or vetoed.
vetoed
(boolean) Whether a bill has been vetoed.
vetoed_at
(timestamp) When a bill was vetoed, if it was.
senate_override_result
The result of a Senate veto override vote, if one was taken. "pass", "fail", or null.
senate_override_result_at
(timestamp) When the Senate last voted to override a veto of the bill, if it did.
house_override_result
The result of a House veto override vote, if one was taken. "pass", "fail", or null.
house_override_result_at
(timestamp) When the House last voted to override a veto of the bill, if it did.
enacted
(boolean) Whether a bill has been enacted as law, through signature or a veto override.
enacted_at
(timestamp) When a bill was enacted, if it was.

actions

text
Text describing the action that occurred to the bill.
acted_at
(timestamp) Date or time the action occurred.
type
Type of action that occurred. Usually this is "action", but can be "vote", "vote2", "vote-aux", "signed", "topresident", "enacted", and potentially other unforeseen values.

passage_votes

result
Result of the vote. Either "pass" or "fail".
voted_at
(timestamp) When the vote occurred.
passage_type
What this vote signifies. Can be "vote", "vote2", "vote-aux", or "pingpong".
text
Text describing the vote.
how
How the vote was taken. Can be "roll" if it was a roll call vote, or one of several forms indicating a voice vote or unanimous consent.
roll_id
If the vote was a roll call vote, the associated roll call ID.
chamber
Chamber the vote took place in. Either "house" or "senate".

committees

A hash, keyed by committee ID, relating some basic information about the committee to what roles the committee had in relation to the bill.

activity
An array of activities this committee has in relation to this bill.
committee
Basic information about the committee.

Example

This is an example for H.R. 3590, from the 111th Congress. Details have been trimmed, but all fields that apply to this bill are present.