Congressional Bills Project


Principal Investigators: E.Scott Adler and John Wilkerson

This site is maintained by John Wilkerson


What is the Bills Project and how is it different?

This public resource provides information about more than 400,000 bills introduced in the U.S. Congress, currently 1947-2008, along with extensive information about each bill's progress and sponsor. It is used by researchers to study legislative institutions and behavior; by policy experts to study issue attention in Congress; and even by citizens studying their family histories (the dataset provides the only digitized records of tens of thousands of private bills introduced between 1947 and 1972).

In contrast to the data available on Library of Congress' THOMAS website ( ) our data are organized in a format that facilitates quantitative studies, and also includes details information about each bill's sponsor. Common keys also enable researchers to merge the data with data through the ICPSR.

The Bills Project is the only digitizedsource for information about the 200,000 bills introduced between 1947 and 1972. [An example of one of these bills is at the bottom of this page!]

The bills database uses Poole and Rosenthal's ICPSR member IDs to incorporate biographical and institutional position information about each bill's sponsor.

We also have manually classified each bill's title according to the topic coding system of the Policy Agendas Project. Each bill is designated to be primarily about one major topic and one subtopic (more details are provided under the 'codebook' link). Force coding in this way enables systematic comparisons of attention across time and venues that are not possible with other coding systems that do not discriminate based on primary topic. [An example of one legislator's bill sponsorship activity is at the bottom of this page]

The Bills Project does not currently include resolutions or the bill texts. Digitized bill texts are available beginning in 1988 at Prior to 1989, they are available in microfiche from a limited number of libraries around the nation. If you are interested in bills that became law, Lexis-Nexis does have the text of laws going back many years.

Before you begin...

Before downloading any data, please check out the Trends page of this website. Finally, we are confident that users will find errors that we have overlooked among the 400,000 cases. Please let us know when you find them! We also appreciate knowing that people are using the data. Questions or comments should be directed to: John Wilkerson and E. Scott Adler

A Bill


September 26, 1990 (H.R. 5727)

Mr. ASPIN introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

That, notwithstanding section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920 (46 U.S.C. App. 883), and sections 12106, 12107, and 12108 of title 46, United States Code, the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating may issue a certificate of documentation with appropriate endorsement for employment in the coastwise trade, Great Lakes trade, and fisheries of the United States for the vessel `Oh Baby At Last' (United States official number 938936).

Citation: E. Scott Adler and John Wilkerson, Congressional Bills Project: (years of data), NSF 00880066 and 00880061. The views expressed are those of the authors and not the National Science Foundation.


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