Sunlight Labs Goes Live With Real Time Congress API

Sunlight Labs announced a new API for streaming U.S. congressional activity. The Sunlight Labs Real Time Congress API (RTC) covers a broad range of U.S. House and Senate actions and data as soon as it's available on the web. The API can be queried and combined with other APIs including the Sunlight Labs Congress API that contains data on legislators.

The RTC could be a bonanza for politicos, journalists, and engaged citizens. "The idea here is to offer feeds of Congressional activity in as close to real time as is feasible." developer Eric Mill wrote in the Sunlight Labs Google Group. "It's not an archival source of data, like GovTrack or the NYT Congress API, and it covers the 111th and 112th Congresses only." Users of the RESTful api can Parse and query information in JSON and XML about:

  • Floor Updates from the U.S. House and senate. The information is updated every five minutes and includes information about every time a bill, legislator, or vote is mentioned. The structured data returned can be combined with other feeds and APIs.
  • Video from can be queried by floor updates
  • Committee Hearing dates, times, locations and descriptions including past hearings.
  • Bills and resolutions updated daily including a massive set of metadata.
  • Amendments updated Daily
  • Votes taken by House and Senate bodies updated every 20 minutes.
  • Documents that currently only cover certain notices. More types of documents will be added very soon.

The new API also offers a multitude of ways to filter and query the data. This includes basic full text searching and partial responses for clients with bandwidth constraints.

The Real Time Congress API is already being used by the Sunlight Labs Android app with promises for future Integration into their iOS and planned Roku apps. The HTML5 app StreamCongress (pictured above) that has been available in the Chrome Web Store since December also uses the new API.

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