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Are there websites out there that have Bills, Resolutions etc.. tagged with computer readable subject specific tagging information like:

If we are talking about this -> H.R. 3547: "Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Act" It might be tagged with "Nasa", "Research", and other (debatable, I'm sure) tags.

  • What are you hoping to accomplish? Maybe you are asking the wrong question. – user1873 Jan 29 '14 at 2:13
  • There are plenty of uses for this type of information. But my particular interest is a programming project to demo for a class, which maps voting patters to issues. Congressperson votes "Yes" on bills tagged with "NASA". – Back2Basics Jan 29 '14 at 2:27
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    Do the bills need to be "tagged"? Wouldn't a simple text search of the entire bill suffice? – user1873 Jan 29 '14 at 5:53
  • I'd have to tell it a list of items to look for and I if I was going to rely on the computer to do that for me that's a totally different class using natural language processing. I was going for graph theory. – Back2Basics Jan 29 '14 at 8:23
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    @user1873 - HELL NO. Correct semantic text analysis is hard – user4012 Jan 29 '14 at 12:04
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I haven't looked too deeply into it, but GovTrack.US does seem to have an API that you can use

https://www.govtrack.us/developers

https://www.govtrack.us/developers/api


It also appears as though you can search for bills by subject area, which i think is a lot like the tags that you're looking for.

terms:

Subject areas associated with the bill. Returned as a list of JSON dicts (or equivalent in other output formats). Only returned in a query for a single object.

Filterable with operators. Sortable. When filtering, specify the ID of one target >object to test if the target is among the values of this field.

And judging from their pages, they seem to have a lot of other metrics that you can use.

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The official website of Congress (Congress.gov) which replaced Thomas.Gov, has the text and status of most bills, but no API. As this article explains, the goal of modernizing the website didn't take open standards very far.

In addition to https://www.govtrack.us/ which does have an API, you may want to also check out the non-governmental http://www.opencongress.org/ which has similiar data. Specificially, Open Congress tracks bills and has a link http://www.opencongress.org/issues for issues, which they have aggregated in one fashion.

Beyond that, developing an "official" taxonomy for bills maintained by a governmental organization will most likely, be quite difficult. If open to government oversight, the pressure for a congressman to game the system with its labels would be significant, reducing its effectiveness. Depending on whether an interest wants the bill to be more or less well known (directly affecting its chances of passage), the temptation to fiddle with its classification would simply be too great.

  • True. The fiddling of tags would happen. That assumes an importance of a few tags. But if a bill had 10-20 less important tags (not to mention the riders tags) then you would have a clearer picture of the thoughts of the complete bill. – Back2Basics Jan 29 '14 at 19:22

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