The Thomas database

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS

Q: Is there a good source for following proposed tax law changes pending in Congress?

A: Since January 1995, the Library of Congress has posted virtually every word uttered in Congress to the thomas.gov website; this information is usually posted by the following morning. Named for Thomas Jefferson, the Thomas database is the official repository for the following information:

  1. Bills & Resolutions (including the texts of bills and resolutions,
    summaries and status, and voting results, including how
    individual members voted);
  2. Activity in Congress;
  3. The Congressional Record, including the daily digest ( Note: Congressional members and their staff are allowed to edit their remarks in the Congressional Record prior to or after publishing. Therefore, the final published record may not exactly match what was said on the floor.);
  4. Schedules and calendars;
  5. Committee information;
  6. Presidential nominations;
  7. Treaties and more.

To follow the bills that address your specific topic(s), search by clicking Bills, Resolutions from the menu in the left column, then select the Search Bill Text option (see above). Select the congressional records to be searched (such as the 112th Congress for 2011 bills), then enter the desired search phrases, such as “capital gains tax,” bill numbers and other search parameters, as shown below. (You may notice the JofA cites bill numbers when reporting on tax and other legislation in Congress.)

This action will return a listing of all bills that meet your search parameters. In the example search for “capital gains tax,” the Thomas database returned the top 1,000 results.

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