Senators call for Thomas site upgrade

The Library of Congress' Thomas portal is inadequate in giving citizens access to House and Senate information, six senators said in a letter to the Librarian of Congress yesterday.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) told James Billington that Thomas was a 'bare-bones' site with limited searching tools.

'In our view, the current form of Thomas is insufficient as a portal to the Congress,' the senators said. 'We urge you to upgrade the Thomas Web site in order to make available to the public the nonproprietary services that are available on the Legislative Information System.'

Only congressional members and their staffs have access to the LIS site, which includes a host of proprietary and nonproprietary functions, the senators said.

The lawmakers said Thomas falls short on such functions as letting citizens search across multiple sessions of Congress; clicking on the sponsor of a particular bill to find other bills sponsored by the same member; searching by state delegation; specifying the difference between a full-text search and a summary-text search, and accessing pending and proposed amendments. It also does not let users save searches, request e-mail alerts or access legislative action taken on the previous day, the senators said.

All of these features are available to members and theirs staffs through the LIS site, the lawmakers said.


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