Date: Tue, 15 Aug 1995 01:02:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Doctor Bob" 
Subject: THOMAS - Legislative Info on the Net

                       TOURBUS - 15 Aug 1995

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     \___/ \___/  "Why Surf When U Can Ride The Bus?"  \___/

        Today's Stop:  THOMAS - Legislative Info on the Net

All aboard... we're headin' for the Hill!  Capitol Hill, that is...
Today we visit a World-Wide Web site popularly known as "THOMAS".

Admittedly this stop may be of limited interest to some TOURBUS
riders, but I checked the list and found that over 75% of the
addresses indicate U.S. origins.  The THOMAS server's own stats
show quite a lot of interest in U.S. politics from far-flung places

What's In The Name?

The THOMAS site bears the name of Thomas Jefferson, one of the first
U.S. presidents.  Although the Internet predates the 1780's by a few
scant years, I'm sure TJ would be proud of this attempt to make
curent legislative information available to the public, even if he
never laid eyes on mouse, modem or monitor.

Like it says on the THOMAS web page: "In the spirit of Thomas Jefferson,
a service of the U.S. Congress through its Library."  If you share in the
growing public distrust of major media sources, you owe it to yourself
to visit THOMAS and find up-to-date information on who's really saying
what on Capitol Hill.  No spin, no bias, no sound bytes here... Just the
raw data from which you can draw your own conclusions.

URL, Please...

Like I said, this site is on the Web, so you'll need a "browser" such as
Netscape, Mosaic, MacWeb or Lynx to get there.  The THOMAS address is:

Actually, there's a pretty good chance you can access THOMAS even if
you're access-impaired.  Try sending e-mail

   To:      - with this line in the message BODY:
   To:      - with this line in the message BODY:

If the flaky webmail servers are up when you try, you should get the web
page returned to you by e-mail.  Please try this only if you have no
other way to access the Web, as the load is high on the webmail servers.

If You'll Look Out The Right Side of the Bus...

You should see the THOMAS home page appearing, complete with a rather
grainy GIF of TJ himself.  I hope I look half as good when I'm 215 years
old.  The site offers quite a few selection, including:

  * Full Text of Legislation  (both House and Senate bills searchable
    by keyword or by bill number for 103rd and 104th Congress)

  * Full Text of the Congressional Record  (the daily account of
    proceedings on the House and Senate Floors searchable by keyword)

  * Hot Legislation  (major bills receiving floor action in the 104th

  * "How Our Laws Are Made", by Edward F. Willett, Jr., House Law
    Revision Counsel.  (An explanation of the lawmaking process from the
    origin of a legislative proposal through its publication as a law.)

  * House of Representatives Gopher

    Directory information for House of Representatives members and
    committees; House of Representatives yearly calendar, latest daily
    committee hearing schedules, the current week's House floor schedule;
    visitor information.

  * Senate Gopher

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Senate Internet services for
    constituents (e-mail, gopher, ftp), Committee and Member documents.

  * House of Representatives Constituent E-Mail
  * U.S. Senate Constituent E-Mail

    E-mail directories for selected House and Senate members and committees.

  * C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network)

    C-SPAN Gopher provides program schedules, Congressional information,
    FEC Reports, Supreme Court information and historical government
    documents. C-SPAN Web Server offers program and events schedules,
    Campaign '96 info, and other political resources.

There are also links to other useful U.S. government sites, such as the
Library of Congress, which is reachable via the Web (
and by gopher (, and even state & local links.

Kicking The Tires

I figured I'd give some of these fancy search tools a try since I was
here.  I selected "104th Congress" under the heading "Full Text of
Legislation" and was presented with a daunting array of fill-ins and
lots of buttons to press.  I like buttons.  Buttons are good.

If my mother was here, she'd be screaming "DON'T TOUCH THOSE, YOU'LL
nothing appeared to break, and the guys with the sunglasses and rifles
never showed up at my house, so try your luck.

You can search for keywords in bills, search for a specific bill number,
and even limit your search to bills sponsored by certain members of
congress.  I decided to look for all the legislation that contained the
words "Internet" and "pornography".  And sure enough, there were more
hits than I could count.  (Actually, I forgot how to count about 2 days
after getting my TI-58 calculator 15 years ago.)

It's In There

I also checked into the "Full Text of the Congressional Record", and
found out they weren't kidding when they said "full".  I mean, they've
got every word uttered on the House and Senate floor crammed in there,
and you can search it by keyword, speaker, date and phase of the moon!

If you really want to know what your elected representatives have said
on a particular topic, you can find it here.

Is The Honorable Senator From New York Wired?

I found that 48 Senators and 128 members of the House of Reps had e-mail
addresses.  Cool, now those form letter replies that have nothing to do
with my flaming missives can bounce back to me even faster.

But alas, my reps have not yet gone the way of the wire.  Let's see, maybe
I can use this Senate Gopher thing to find a FAX number...

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