This app costs $4.99 and is completely worth it. Being a broke law student, I might have even paid $10.00 because the searching possibilities of this app are just about limitless. When you first open the app, you are greeted with a list of all members of congress. This list includes their pictures and state, district and party affiliations. You can search for a member of Congress by name or by state by selecting the option in the top right corner.
I first explored the app to determine just what it had to offer. Honestly, I was shocked at the options and the quick links to important sites. It is almost as if the makers of the app knew just how we law students like things to be quick and easy. Along the bottom of the opening screen, as shown above, you have options to view Senate members, House members, Legislation, etc.. The app begins to get interesting after you press on the “more” button, found at the far right bottom of the screen. Although a law student’s primary need will be the legislation option, sometimes you need to play. If you choose to do so, you will be able to access news, DC job openings, Factcheck.org, News articles from Politico with a search option, open seats in congress, the political composition of each house, and even, donors.
After playing around for about thirty minutes, I decided to conduct a search. The research topic I conjured up was a topic involving eminent domain. I was curious as to whether there were any federal repercussions for states that use the power of eminent domain to confiscate land from a private owner to make a public park, and then later decide to close the park and sell that land to an apartment developer. I tapped the “Legislation” option on the bottom tool bar and was presented with the option to search for legislation by name or phrase, or by entering the bill number. I entered “eminent domain” “public parks” into the search bar. The results were many bill listings separated into three different categories: (1) “Listing of 4 bills containing all your search words near each other in any order,” (2) “Listing of 76 bills containing all your search words but not near each other,” and (3) “List containing 995 bills containing one or more of your search words.” When I selected the first bill in the search list, a table of contents page appeared with links to each subject.
Also, the app gives you the option to look at a bill summary, explore the sponsors of the bill and information about each member, etc.. I selected the bill summary just to see if I was on the right track, and the CRS Summary paraphrased every relevant section of the bill for a rapid assessment of the bill’s usefulness. To top it all off, if you press on “Home,” at the top left of the screen, you are taken directly to the THOMAS site.
So, if you feel your search options are limited with the Congress Plus app, you are given the full spectrum of search power through THOMAS.
I truly enjoyed using this app because it ran very smoothly, with no hiccups, and there are no obvious organizational changes to make. It is worth every penny, especially if you are involved in politics.
~Laura Dean, Class of 2013~