Skip to content
U.S. National Debt:

How Congress Works

Article I, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution sets out the guidelines for the composition of the U.S. Senate. Originally, Senators were chosen by state legislatures. That was later modified in 1913 by the Seventeenth Amendment so that the people of a state directly elected their Senators. Idaho's first popularly-elected Senators were James H. Brady (in 1914) and William E. Borah (in 1918, although Borah was first appointed by the Idaho State Legislature in 1907). The links listed below are useful in learning more about the workings of the U.S. Congress.

How A Bill Becomes A Law: This PDF download gives you a good overview of the process that happens when a bill is proposed and how it moves along to become a law.

How Congress Functions: This website provides an overview of the legislative process and how Congress is set up. It contains a number of additional links that will help you research more about the functions of Congress.

History of the U.S. Senate: The U.S. Senate is a complex legislative body, intended to be that way by those who wrote the U.S. Constitution. It is steeped in history and has provided an opportunity for each state to be equally represented in debates. This website has some fascinating historical documents about the Senate's origins and developments.

Congressional Organization: This is a terrific graphic chart that lays out the organization of the U.S. Senate, along with leadership and committee details.

Virtual Reference Desk: Provides a sizable clearinghouse for resources about the Senate.

What Congress Is Doing

On any given day that the Senate is in session, there will be committee meetings and floor debate. While those might be easier for some to follow on C-Span, there is plenty of activity that is not easily accessible. The links listed below can help you know what Congress is doing each day.

Daily Digest: The Library of Congress maintains a database that notes the daily activities for each day the Senate is in session. Links are included to any legislation that is debated or voted upon during that day.

Daily Committee Schedule: This site will provide a brief description of the committee meetings and hearings scheduled for the current week, as well as the time and location for each one. If a scheduled meeting or hearing is cancelled or postponed, it will be reflected on this schedule.

Senate Floor Schedule: This calendar makes it easy to determine what is happening on any day in the U.S. Senate.

Thomas: This site, maintained by the Library of Congress and named in honor of our 3rd President Thomas Jefferson, is the most up-to-date tracking of legislation that has been introduced in Congress. It has a search function that allows to you search using the bill number, the name of the sponsor or co-sponsor or text from the bill. It also provides information from past Congresses.

How To: This site gives you research tools on how to find various types of information: committee/subcommittee rosters, copies of bill, Federal Register, treaties, Congressional Record and many others.

Senate Legislation by Subject: This database allows you to search for certain subjects in the legislation introduced in Congress.

Senate Sessions: For information on the types of sessions held in the U.S. Senate, please visit this site. It includes details on all Congresses and the corresponding years from 1789 when the first Congress met to the present Congress.

Glossary of Terms: Have you ever been confused by some of the terms used to describe what is going on in Congress? This link gives you dozens of legislative terms and definitions to help clarify what is happening in the Senate.

What I Am Doing

I am serving my fourth term as a U.S. Senator for the state of Idaho. The links listed below will give you more information and insight into what I am doing to represent Idaho.

Mike's bio: This will give you information about my background and experience in public service for Idaho.

Mike's Committee and Leadership Assignments: Visit this page to review my committee assignments, caucus memberships and leadership responsibilities.

Legislative Record: This includes links to the bills and amendments that I have sponsored and co-sponsored since becoming a member of the U.S. Senate in 1999. You can also search Congressional Record Statements I have made and submitted during that same time frame.

My Vote Record: This database maintained by Thomas/the Library of Congress keeps an updated list of votes taken on the Senate floor on amendments and bills. The Washington Post also maintains a similar database.

Issues Links: This comprehensive list can provide you with additional information about my position on issues facing our country.

News Releases: Use this link to search news releases issued by my office by subject or date.

State and Local Resources

As a federal representative, I have the opportunity to assist Idahoans who may have difficulties with federal agencies. There are a number of state and local resources that can assist you with issues that are more local in nature.

Idaho Governor Brad Little: This website gives you current information from the office of the Idaho Governor.

State of Idaho: The official website for the state of Idaho provides information on birth certificates, maps of Idaho, road reports, links to various state agencies and many other resources.

Idaho State Legislature: To learn what legislation has been introduced or is being debated by the Idaho State Legislature, this website is invaluable. You can also determine who your state legislators are as well as contact them through this site.