House Committee/Subcomm Votes
- I want to raise the issue for the group's consideration of displaying U.S.
House committee and subcommittee votes on the Web in readily accessible
format. Committee and subcommittee votes are critical as committees do
much of the work of the House, and there are far fewer limitations on
offering amendments than on the House floor. Beyond the details below,
the issue is how to get the House to put committee and subcommittee votes
on the Web so they can be pulled readily and to do so shortly after each
You can see the problem by going to any committee's web site (with the
exception of Education and the Workforce) and looking for the tally of
votes in committee (try http://financialservices.house.gov - but since
there haven't been recorded votes in the 109th, try
Most committee votes are in individual committee reports in pdf format.
All committees that I had surveyed with one exception will not provide a
copy of tally sheets but require a personal visit to the committee office
to view, but not make a copy of, the tally sheet. Subcommittee votes are
published at the end of the two-year Congress in a single House volume.
You can see the policy of the Financial Services Committe in an exchange I
had in 2002 at http://www.techpolitics.org/finservs.htm Click on the link
to the vote on H.R. 1261 to see that the Education and the Workforce
Committee does publish votes in accessible format, which undercuts the
response I received from Financial Services.
There are other sources for the committee votes, but they also pose
problems for ready access: Thomas has committee reports
but in some (many? most?) cases the vote is missing, e.g.
The Government Printing Office puts up committee reports with votes in
ascii, but timing of posting is not certain (it certainly isn't immediate)
and I understand it would be very difficult to scrape the votes. To find
House committee reports on the GPO site go to:
-- Check the box next to House Reports and put "financial services" in
quotation marks under Search and submit.
-- Click on Text under number 10- "Financial Services Regulatory Relief
Act of 2003."
-- Then search page for "committee votes" The second occurrence of these
words is the middle of the page - scroll down and you'll see a vote.
I have compiled committee votes in the past, e.g.
http://www.techpolitics.org/finservs.htm (before I was using mysql/php),
but this is time-consuming to produce. Your thoughts on getting at the
issue are welcomed.
- --- Ken Colburn <ken.colburn@...> wrote:
> Most committee votes are in individual committeeHow do blind people access this information? There
> reports in pdf format.
might be a way to fight these difficult policies via
sec 508. I'm repeatedly amazed at the resistance to
opening data like this.
Kinda ironic that they have a "text-only version" link
on each page of their website (with just filler text
anyway) but not for the pdf's (which have the really
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail - Helps protect you from nasty viruses.
- Interesting thought, however this would likely have to be fought on its
merits rather than law enforcement as Congress generally exempts itself
from civil rights and employment laws. Another soft point is the
Congressional Internet Caucus:
http://www.netcaucus.org/members/ A congressional body devoted to
increasing use of the Internet should at the least be willing to support
making committee/subcommittee votes accessible on the Internet. My
experience is that press on the Hill and interest groups involved with
openness issues (e.g. http://www.cdt.org/righttoknow/10mostwanted/) are
aware of the problem but see it as a lesser priority than a lot of other
issues. The Govtrack group, focused on making government information
accessible, could play an important role in pursuing the issue.
On Tue, 1 Mar 2005 12:41:35 -0800 (PST), Scott Beardsley
> --- Ken Colburn <ken.colburn@...> wrote:
>> Most committee votes are in individual committee
>> reports in pdf format.
> How do blind people access this information? There
> might be a way to fight these difficult policies via
> sec 508. I'm repeatedly amazed at the resistance to
> opening data like this.
> Kinda ironic that they have a "text-only version" link
> on each page of their website (with just filler text
> anyway) but not for the pdf's (which have the really
> important text).