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On the Records: What Are Federal Lawmakers Saying?

The Sunlight Foundation released an update to the interactive Capitol Words on Monday. The application allows users to search and compare words spoken by federal legislators using data from the Congressional Record.

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The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for government transparency and innovative use of data, released an update to the interactive Capitol Words yesterday. The application allows users to search and compare words spoken by federal legislators using data from the Congressional Record.

“Capitol Words is an important tool for a concerned or simply curious citizen to learn what their members of Congress are saying,” said Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation, in a press release. “Washington is a city driven by what politicians say. It’s something that special interests fight to influence and spin doctors carefully craft day-in and day-out.”

When users search for a word or phrase in Capitol Words, the application graphs its frequency over time and shows which lawmakers mentioned the word or phrase the most. It also shows the popularity of the phrase by party and includes quotes, or “occurrences,” of the word or phrase in the Congressional Record.

For example, if you search for “job-killing,” you will see Texas lawmakers said that phrase more than lawmakers from any other state. The phrase “job-killing” was spoken by Republicans more than three-quarters of the time, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, was among the top five lawmakers to say “job-killing” the most.

You can also compare the frequency of a word or phrase to another word or phrase spoken by clicking “compare Congressional words and/or phrases.”

The application also allows users to see the most common words by state. The Texas page reveals that Texas lawmakers said “Houston,” “Dallas,” “Medicare,” “border” and “Republican” more than any other words. And the top three phrases spoken by federal legislators from Texas were “and that’s just the way,” “that’s just the way it” and “my home state of Texas.”

In similar fashion, The Texas Tribune created an application to visualize what lawmakers said under the Texas Capitol dome during the legislative session earlier this year. Check it out here

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