Whatever the motivations, the XML voting data is now available. And while that’s a big improvement—and a sign that some in the Senate are taking more seriously the effort to make legislative data more readily available—the Senate and the House still don’t provide XML data on the status of bills. Programmers who want to display information on a bill’s standing outside of a roll-call vote—where it is in committee, for instance—must devise their own data-scraping programs, or use an open-source third-party XML feed, like the one that GovTrack.us makes available for free.

“The endgame is for them to have the same database that I have,” says Tauberer. “I want to put myself out of business.”

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.