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1187Re: [govtrack] Question on New Bill XML

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  • Eric Mill
    May 22, 2013
      I think we just discussed the vote discrepancy in our issue tracker:

      Basically, bill data from THOMAS (which has actions, of which some have a 'how' of 'roll') is always going to be worse at detecting roll call votes than the roll call data itself (the "rolls" dataset), which is pulled directly from the House and Senate. Figuring out when bill data on THOMAS mentions a vote is a matter of tricky sentence parsing, so it only commits to catching votes on final passage of a bill (and I think cloture). So it lets a lot of procedural votes go by.

      The github.com/unitedstates/congress project has collectors for both bill data from THOMAS, and roll call data from the House/Senate. They're both used in production in different places, so I think the project is ready for use.

      The closest thing to documenting fields is on the wiki page for the project:

      But it doesn't list possible values for the state field right now. That could be a nice addition. Sunlight ends up documenting a lot of these fields in more detail in our Congress API documentation for bills, but that data does diverge from the unitedstates data in some ways, and we actually don't use the state field (we use the history flags instead), so it's not included there.

      -- Eric


      On Wed, May 22, 2013 at 1:40 PM, telos3k <bwbloch@...> wrote:
      What's the current thinking on having github.com/unitedstates/congress replace the traditional govtrack bill data, as congress-legislators replaced people.xml? Is the github data complete enough to use instead of the bill data for the 113th, or would that be making the transition prematurely? One thing I've noticed, for example, is that there seems to be fewer roll call votes in github (how = 'roll') than in data/us/113/rolls.
      Related question: Is there a list somewhere of all the possible values for the github.com/unitedstates/congress fields (such as official_activity.state)?

      As always, many thanks for your great work.

      Bradley



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