Infiltrating D.C., Digitally

Article excerpt

To understand capital insiders, visit http://www.pathfinder. com/CQ

If you want to think the way Washington insiders think, start by reading what they read, like the Congressional Quarterly. Founded in 1945 by newspaperman Nelson Poynter, the Congressional Quarterly these days has online facilities to share regularly updated news and analysis on current events, perspective pieces on state and local government, as well as information on seminars and publications and directions to related sites.

Central to the Congressional Quarterly site is Vote Watch, a feature of particular value to reporters and editors during an election season like this one. Operated in conjunction with Time Warner's Pathfinder feature, the service enables you to track your local representatives' votes on key issues in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Visit the site and note bow the resulting screen provides a form in which you can enter the senator or representative's last name, the state, ZIP code and/or voting district.

Other fields on the form let you:

* specify whether you want to search for votes taken in the past day two days, week, two weeks, month, or longer period.

* enter a bill name or keyword.

* indicate a subject, choosing from agriculture, appropriations, defense/veterans affairs, economics, labor, budget, finance/taxes, environment/science, energy, foreign policy, government operations, health, education/welfare, housing, lobbyists, the judiciary politics/elections, trade/transportation and so on.

Fill in any or all of the fields and click on the button, "Get Congressional Voting Records." The site displays a list of bills that meet your specifications and whether the representative(s) voted yea or nay. Titles of all the bills are hyperlinked, so you can click on any bill title to receive the Congressional Quarterly's story on that particular vote, along with background on the issue.

And you don't have to specify just one senator or representative for your search. Let's say you want to see if all of Kentucky's representatives voted the same way on tobacco legislation over the past year and a half. Leave blank the form's field for the representative's last name, then enter "KY" in the state field, the keyword "tobacco" in the search field and select 18 months in the time frame field. …