December 19, 2020

A Beginner's Guide to Congressional Data for 2021

Data-rich resources from around the web on Congress and the Federal Government.

A Beginner's Guide to Congressional Data for 2021

Congressional issues are always important, but they are poised to be in the spotlight next year. President Elect Joseph Biden has stated that while he will use executive orders aggressively, there are many issues that require action from the legislative branch. Given a global pandemic, frayed relations with major power competitors, and mounting social problems, 2021 may be an unusually busy legislative year.

Here is a guide to the many sources of data about legislators, congress, and government at large. Most of these resources will be most helpful for software developers and data scientists trying to make sense of the complex sociotechnical system that is the United States federal government.


Members of the United States Congress, 1789-Present, in YAML/JSON/CSV, as well as committees, presidents, and vice presidents. - unitedstates/congress-legislators

The United States GitHub account maintains a bevy of valuable resources (several more are cited throughout this post). There are two useful links below of JSON files detailing current members of Congress, and another with a list of their official social media accounts.


Govtrack maintains an extremely useful database of misconduct and alleged misconduct by Members of congress. Here is their GitHub page:

A database of misconduct and alleged misconduct by Members of the United States Congress. - govtrack/misconduct

ProPublica and Sunlight offer two useful APIs for accessing a wide range of congressional information.

ProPublica Congress API
Sunlight Congress API

Historical Data

MIT professor Charles Stewart maintains a valuable collection of data resources here:

Charles Stewart’s congressional data page

Public Domain Photos of Members of Congress

Need photos of members of congress? Look no further:

Public domain photos of Members of the United States Congress - unitedstates/images

FEC Finance Data

Financial contributions are a perennially important data source for understanding Congress:

Campaign finance data -
Explore current and historic federal campaign finance data on the new Look at totals and trends, and see how candidates and committees raise and spend money. When you find what you need, export results and save custom links.

Legislation and Congressional Information is one of the most useful resources for finding information related to Congress, including bills, hearings, and more:

govinfo | U.S. Government Publishing Office
Official Publications from the U.S. Government Publishing Office. also has a bulkdata page available here:

The United States github account has excellent tools for obtaining bulk records of bills and the Congressional Record, available here:

Public domain data collectors for the work of Congress, including legislation, amendments, and votes. - unitedstates/congress
A parser for the Congressional Record. Contribute to unitedstates/congressional-record development by creating an account on GitHub.

The Federal Register is the official journal of the federal government and contains a number of important notifications, proposals of rule changes and other public notices. There is currently a beta site for searching and browsing it available here:

eCFR :: Home

Spending & Budget is the new official source of accessible, searchable and reliable spending data for the U.S. Government.

Geography and Districts

Working on a GIS project that? Check out this data for GeoJSON and other shapefiles :

GeoJSON and other shape files for the federal legislative districts of the US. - unitedstates/districts
GIS boundaries in GeoJSON format for all US Congressional Districts, 1789 to 2012 - JeffreyBLewis/congressional-district-boundaries

Inspector General Reports

An important collection of reports from government watchdogs:

Collecting reports from Inspectors General across the US federal government. - unitedstates/inspectors-general