We recently received a research question regarding H.R. 4646, 111 Cong. (2010). According to the researcher, the bill levied a 1% tax on all bank transactions; all direct deposits an expenditures. The researcher stated that they had verified this information as accurate at Snopes.com. However, this does not entirely settle the question for a legal researcher! How do you verify whether or not this is true? Allow us to introduce you to Congress.gov, a website that facilitates U.S. legislative information. Congress.gov is still in beta testing, but as of November 19, 2013, it will replace Thomas.
Here is how you do it: Go to Congress.gov. On the search bar, there is a pull down menu. Click on the pull down menu and change the field ‘Current Legislation’ to ‘All Legislation.’ Enter H.R. 4646 in the search bar. The second bill listed is the ‘Debt Free America Act’ from the 111th Congress (2009-2010). Click on the bill number and a number of tabs will appear: Summary, Text, Actions,Titles etc. Select the ‘Actions’ tab. Search result: As of November 19, 2013 the bill has been referred to a number of committees, but never referred out of committee.
Because the bill was not passed in the 111th Congress, it never became a law and must be reintroduced in a subsequent Congress. We are currently in the 113th Congress. To be fair to Snopes.com, they did not claim that the bill had become law, but only that it was a validly introduced bill. It does show that the legal researcher must verify information and Congress.gov is excellent tool for legislative information.
Mark Kloempken and Tove Klovning