Is Forgetting About Its Congress Page?

If you woke up Thursday wondering what was happening with the financial regulation reform bill in the Senate, the Congress tab at wasn’t the place to look.

The section was still topped with a Wednesday story about a derivatives compromise proposed by Sen. Chris Dodd—a proposal that my Thursday newspaper tells me Dodd has abandoned.

The biggest deal in the world? No, but it’s not a great sign.

The paper paper does report on the fin reg latest: the bill stalled in the Senate on Wednesday. (And online, I found the story by clicking on business.)

If you wanted the news last night, it was easy to find on Politico.

Dem dissidents block financial reform

This isn’t a one-off miss by the Post’s web team. The Post’s revamped politics site has received a lot of attention lately—from both inside the paper and out—but, so far, the Congress section that falls within it seems to be a bit of a stepchild.

It reminds me of that great Spinal Tap moment:

Ian Faith: The Boston gig has been cancelled…

David St. Hubbins: What?

Ian Faith: Yeah. I wouldn’t worry about it though, it’s not a big college town.

The Post has decided to go heavy on its politics coverage, bringing in the power bloggers, redesigning that part of its website, and promoting it heavily.

There’s plenty of logic behind that decision, and plenty to read on PostPolitics, on politics, personalities, even policy. Thursday morning’s offerings included an after-action report on the Obamas’ second state dinner (short version: no crashers), follow-ups on Tuesday’s voting, and a long look at the possibility that Chuck Schumer might become the next Senate majority leader. About half-way down the politics site there’s also that story about the fin reg bill stalling in the Senate.

But Washington is a big Congress town, and I can’t be alone among readers in expecting The Washington Post to give Congress its due—even, especially—on line.

That’s not to say the paper isn’t covering this big institution. It is. But that reporting can be awfully hard to find.

The story of the finance bill’s stalling eventually migrated to the top of the Congress page. But below that, there were four featured stories: one about Arlen Specter, posted long before polls closed on Tuesday, two other campaign stories from Pennsylvania earlier in the week, and a story posted May 13—a week ago!—about the Senate Judiciary Committee approving a controversial Obama nominee.

There’s a lot more happening on the Hill, and, oddly, a lot more congressional coverage in the Post itself. Today there’s plenty to choose from: an interesting bit about lawmakers quizzing the FTC on whether it’s investigating a Google privacy lapse, Dana Milbank on Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and still more coverage of the primaries, just for starters.

Last week, I clicked on Congress looking for a column I’d seen in my print edition about proposed legislation to increase campaign finance disclosure requirements. Not there. Neither was a good piece about Republicans’ decision to target long-serving Democratic committee chairs in November, or a story about the Senate’s compromise climate bill.

I know that it’s all about priorities, and the Post has chosen politics. But Congress is politics, and it’s policy, and readers should be able to find a bit more of that when they click.

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Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at