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Zimmerman's Research Guide



The main number for the Capitol Building, where both the House and Senate meet, is 202-224-3121. The House and Senate each post committee lists, biographies of current Congress members, calendars, parliamentary rules, etc.

Current and former members of the House and Senate are also listed in the Congressional Directory, which is posted on FDsys. The directory includes former legislators back to the 105th Congress (1997-98). For the most current information, call Washington.

Biographical Information: You can get free biographical information on Congress members from the Congressional Directory, discussed above, from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. If you subscribe, CQ Roll Call offers excellent Member Profiles that include complete election and campaign finance history, plus analysis of and statistics on each member's voting record. OpenCongress Wiki has biographical info too (including a list of Members of Congress under investigation), but be sure to verify the accuracy of the information. Financial disclosure forms back to 1991 are available on Lexis (LEGIS;MEMFD). Pictures are posted in the Congressional Picture Directory back to the 105th Congress (1996-97), and on current legislator's web sites (for more try, Google Images). Net worth data and investments are posted by the Center for Responsive Politics in OpenSecrets.org.

Current and former members of the House and Senate are also listed in the Congressional Directory, which is posted on FDsys. The directory includes former legislators back to the 105th Congress (1997-98). For the most current information, call Washington.

Committees: Current information, including selected hearing transcripts and/or recordings, is posted by the various House Committees and Senate Committees. For historical background, see An Overview of the Development of U.S. Congressional Committees. For Rules and Procedures, see the House of Representatives and United States Senate entries. See also Congressional Hearings, Congressional Reports and Congressional Committee Prints and/or the "Staff" section of this entry, below.

Documents: House Documents, Senate Documents and Treaty Documents are posted in the Congressional Documents collection on FDsys back to the 99th Congress (1985-86). The House Rules and Manual and Senate Manual are posted on FDsys. "Dear Colleague" letters are available from CQ Roll Call.

News: Congressional news is published in Roll Call, The Hill, The Politico, CQ Weekly, and National Journal. You can sign up for free email newsletters from CQ Roll Call. You can search back issues of Roll Call (1989-Present) and The Hill (1995-Present) through ProQuest Congressional. The print and online editions of National Journal are on Westlaw (NATJNL-ALL).

OpenCongress is a congress-focused wiki that often provides a useful summary of notable topics and sometimes provides the inside scoop.

State Net's Capitol Journal provides at least one in-depth legislative news story each day for free on its Web site, with searchable archives back to 2004.

Rankings: Congress.org (formerly Roll Call) adds a "Power Ranking" to the bios it posts of Senators and Representatives. The League of Conservation Voters gives a score of 0 to 100 for each member of Congress based on their environmental record. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) rank the most corrupt members of Congress.

Rules: For the rules of procedure governing the two houses of Congress see "House of Representatives" and/or "United States Senate."

Salaries: Salaries for U.S. senators, representatives and staffers are posted in the Salary Database compiled by Legistorm.

Sessions: Each session of Congress lasts two years. The Senate posts a chart showing the years covered by the first through the current Congressional sessions. You can also find charts posted by LLSDC and Thomas.

Staff: You can get names, titles, phone numbers and email addresses for Congressional staffers in the National Journal Almanac, the Congressional Staff Directory (CQ) and the Congressional Yellow Book (Leadership Directories). The Almanac is available in print and by subscription to the National Journal website. The Congressional Yellow Book is available online in the The Leadership Library. CQ Roll Call has information on each Congressional member's staff and district offices. CQ's First Street tells you which staffers are working on specific issues and legislation. Legistorm tries to provide more in-depth data on staffers including their educational backgrounds, employment histories, social media links, hometowns, hobbies and activities, family connections, etc. ( click here for Legistorm pricing).

See also "Salaries," above.

Votes: Voting results are posted free back to the 101st Congress (1989-90) on Thomas and back to the 102nd Congress (1991-92) by the Washington Post. You can look up older votes in CCH's Congressional Index. For nearly real-time vote results, monitor the House and Senate Twitter feeds - see https://twitter.com/HouseFloor and A HREF="https://twitter.com/senatefloor" target="_blank">https://twitter.com/senatefloor, respectively.

For more Congress-related resources: Check out USA.gov and/or Thomas and/or check out the "See Also" entries, below. For sites concerning campaign finance, government contracting and other useful disclosures, see the Our Tools and Web Sites page posted by the Sunlight Foundation.

See Also
Bill Status
Campaign Contributions
Congressional Committee Prints
Congressional Debates
Congressional Districts
Congressional Hearings
Congressional Member Organizations
Congressional Record
Congressional Reports
Congressional Research Service Reports
Congressional Resolutions
Federal Bills
Federal Legislative History
Government Documents
Government Publishing Office (GPO)
House of Representatives
Private Laws
Public Laws
Treaties - U.S.
United States Senate

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman