Sawyer Library recently added another database to our collection of online resources from the CQ (Congressional Quarterly) Press. CQ Congress Collection is, as the name indicates, a group of descriptive and statistical materials supporting research related to the United States Congress.
CQ Press describes it in this way: "CQ Press Congress Collection presents a powerful research and reference tool that provides an analytical survey of the history and development; powers; personalities; current developments; and legislation considered and passed by the United States Congress. A wealth of data with nonbiased commentary is organized under four sections: Public Policy Legislation presents legislative information and analysis under 23 broad topics — such as agriculture, civil rights, national security, and transportation — and hundreds of subtopics. Members of Congress includes biographical, political, and electoral data about every member of Congress since the 79th Congress (additional Congresses will be added periodically). Floor Votes organizes, by Congress and topic, the preferred data for scholarly research. The Legislative Branch provides encyclopedic information, statistical data, legislative analysis, and Supreme Court case summaries relating to the structure and powers of Congress — including committee information — and its relationships with other branches of government and the media."
Although the interface is less than friendly, and linking between sections of the database can be painfully slow, this is indeed "a powerful research and reference tool" for political science research.
It is easy to get a basic profile of a member of Congress, like Barney Frank.
Then we can click various links, like the one for "Key Votes," and see his voting record.
Each of the vote titles is itself a link to further information on that piece of legislation.
You can even compare how members of Congress are rated by various special interest groups. Comparing Senator Ted Kennedy to Senator Mitch McConnell certainly allows for a vivid contrast. The ACU (American Conservative Union)--not to be confused with the ACLU, which has a much different viewpoint!--gives Senator McConnell a 92 rating, while the senior senator from Massachusetts receives an emphatic goose egg.
We hope that those researching public policy and the legislative branch will find this a valuable resource. And don't forget our other useful CQ products, including CQ Researcher (great for Pro-Con analysis of hot button social issues) and CQ Press Political Reference Suite (which includes a wide assortment of online reference materials, from the Political Handbook of the World, to the excellent primary documents resource, the Historic Documents Series).
There's a lot of useful material here, even if it isn't always easy to find. Once you DO find it, you can export data as needed, or create a profile so that you can save your favorite documents and searches for further use.