Congressional Bills Project

About the Congressional Bills Project

The Congressional Bills Project is a relational database of over 400,000 public and private bills introduced in the U.S. House and Senate since 1947. The dataset is primarily intended for use scholars and students of legislative politics.

In addition, this site serves as a repository for related information, including resources and research papers that may be of interest to scholars. New visitors want to take a look at the Trends in Legislative Activity page.

Each record provides information about a bill's:

Each record can be associated with other existing datasets via two key systems.

Additional information about the organization of the data, including variable descriptions is contained in two codebooks

Trained human coders assign a primary topic (one of 19 major and one of 224 subtopics) to each bill based on their readings of either the short description or the title of the bill. Intercoder reliability across the 225 subtopics is very high. Intercoder disagreements can indicate coding errors, but we have found that most of them reflect legitimate disagreements about a bill's primary topic. For example, a bill proposing a health care program for children of illegal immigrants might be arguably coded as an immigration issue (530) or as a child health issue (332).

For this reason, a researcher seeking to identify every bill related to a topic needs to use our topic system with care. In the above example, he would want to review bills falling within 530 and 332. But more generally, because our assignments are based on the bill's title or short description, there might be other bills that address the subject, but are not primarily about that subject.

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