Keeping Tabs on Congress

Late last year I started using OpenCongress. As with anything politics related I was initially skeptical, but after 8 months I can comfortably say that this is an excellent resource for staying current on the activities in Congress. It's become part of my daily reading to follow the OpenCongress blog (via Google Reader) and frequently I'll use the website to learn more about a specific issue.

There is a profound difference between the watered down, politically motivated newscasts I see on TV, and the thoughtful, bipartisan access to the details of congressional activities that is provided by OpenCongress. After 8 months it is clear to me that if you get your news about Congress from TV you are watching some of the most comprehensive fiction ever put on the air waves. The devil is in the details and TV leaves out the details and frequently makes up all the rest.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that what goes on in Congress is rational, but instead that the reporting on those events, as done by OpenCongress, is superb in comparison to TV news.

So what is OpenCongress? Here's a quote from their about page:
OpenCongress brings together official government information with news and blog coverage to give you the real story behind what's happening in Congress.

For most people, finding out what's really happening in Congress is a daunting and time-consuming task. The legislative process is frequently arcane and closed-off from the public, resulting in frustration with Congress and apathy about politics.

...

OpenCongress is a free, open-source, non-profit, and non-partisan web resource with a mission to help make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement. OpenCongress is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation.

In my opinion OpenCongress is an invaluable tool that provides citizens the information necessary to have a rational, non-sound bite based, debate on the current issues being covered by Congress. I specifically avoid the phrase "being debated by Congress" because there hasn't been any debate in the 8 months I've been following. Of course, if I still got my news from TV, I wouldn't know that.

I highly recommend subscribing to the OpenCongress Blog and taking a tour of the OpenCongress website.