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Navigating Thomas: Bill Texts

13 December 2007
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If you've been reading Project Vote Smart summaries of Congressional legislation, you probably have noticed that PVS provides a link to the text of the legislation at a website called Thomas. For an example of a link like this, see our summary of the House concurrence vote on HR 6, the energy bill. If you scroll down past the PVS synopsis, past the official title, and right below the highlights, you will see an example of this type of link. One question we get quite frequently is "What is Thomas?"

Thomas is a part of the website of the Library of Congress where you can find a wealth of information on Congressional legislation and even read the transcripts of the floor debates. These transcripts are called the Congressional Record. This site is called Thomas because it proclaims to be in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson.

When you are reading a summary on our site and you click on the link to the text of the bill on Thomas, you may find that there are a handful of versions of the bill available for you. Again HR 6 is a good example. Here Thomas currently tells you there are six versions of HR 6 available. The first version is the IH version, or the version introduced in the House. This is the bill in its original form, with all the original text the sponsor of the bill had written. Sometimes a bill text version will be available that says "reported in House," or RH. In these cases, the bill was sent down to a committee after it was introduced and the committee amended the bill before reporting it back to the House.

The second version of HR 6 available on Thomas right now is the EH version, or engrossed by the House. Engrossed is a fancy way of saying that this is the version the chamber passed. Our HR 6 summary on the PVS website for the House passage vote is based on the EH version of the bill. Your representatives voted on this form of the bill, not the introduced or reported forms.

The third version of HR 6 available on Thomas is the PCS version, or Placed on the Calendar in the Senate. This is the version that the Senate debated on the floor ("On the floor" means that the debate is taking place with the whole House or Senate, not just in a committee.). The PCS version may get amended on the floor before the bill is voted on.

The fourth version of HR 6 available here is the EAS version, or engrossed as amended by the Senate. This is the version that your senators voted on. This is also the version that the PVS Senate passage summary is based on.

The next version available is the PP version, for public print. This version will outline the changes that the Senate made to the bill.

This particular bill went back to the House for a concurrence vote, meaning that the House votes on whether or not to accept the changes the Senate made. On HR 6, the House voted to make changes to the changes the Senate made, and then passed the bill again. The version the House voted on here is the EAH version, or engrossed as amended by the House. Here is the PVS summary for that version.

After a bill has been passed by both chambers in an identical form, an enrolled version will be available. Enrolled is just a fancy way of saying that it is the final version of the bill as agreed on by both chambers.

When you click on one of these bill text versions on Thomas, the text of the bill will appear but in cases where the bill is rather large you will only see a hyperlink list of the titles and sections of the bill. You can click on each hyperlink to view that portion of the bill, or you can use the link in the upper right that says "Printer Friendly Display" to view the bill in its entirety.

If you are reading one of our summaries and having difficulty determining which bill text version is the applicable version, please don't hesitate to call or email us. We will be more than happy to help you, Informed Voter. Our hotline number is 888-VOTESMART and you can email us at

Look for more information about navigating the Thomas site in the days to come.

Related tags: bills, blog, Congressional-votes, key-votes, Thomas

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