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README.md

CongressForms

Installation

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'congress_forms'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install congress_forms

Program Dependencies

  • google-chrome, git

Usage

To send a message to Congress, begin by creating a form object. Senators should be identified by their BioGuide ID, while Representatives are identified by an office code HXXYY, where XX is their state and YY is their district.

# Form for Senator Kamala Harris (BioGuide H001075)
CongressForms::Form.find("H001075")

# Form for CA-13 Represenative Barbara Lee (office code HCA13)
CongressForms::Form.find("HCA13")

Each Senator's office may require different fields, provide different options for select menus, etc. You can query the fields required by a particular form by calling CongressForms::Form#required_params.

# List required message parameters
irb(main)> CongressForms::Form.find("H001075").required_params
[
  # Required text fields
  { :value => "$NAME_FIRST", :max_length => nil },
  { :value => "$NAME_LAST", :max_length => nil },

  # Required multiple choice field
  { :value => "$NAME_PREFIX", :options => ["Mr.", "Ms.", "Mrs.", ...] },

  # Required multiple choice field with distinct labels and values
  {
    :value => "$TOPIC", :options => {
      "Abortion" => "943AD4D7-5056-A066-60A5-D652A671D70E",
      "Agriculture" => "943AD58A-5056-A066-60BD-A9DBEE1187A1",
      "Animal Welfare" => "943AD622-5056-A066-6065-1B45E2F6F45D",
    }
  },
 ...
]
...

Pass the required values, in a hash, to CongressForms::Form#fill to send the message.

form = CongressForms::Form.find("H001075")

form.fill(
  "$NAME_FIRST" => "...",
  "$NAME_LAST" => "...",
  "$MESSAGE" => "...",
  ...
)

For Senate offices, this will fill out the representative's contact form with a headless instance of Google Chrome. For House offices, messages are submitted through the Communicating with Congress (CWC) API.

CLI Usage

You can also send messages from the command line:

$ bin/congress_forms --help
Usage: congress_forms [options]
    -i, --rep_id REP_ID              ID of the representative to message
    -r, --repo DIR                   Location for unitedstates/contact_congress repository
    -p, --param KEY=VALUE            e.g. -p NAME_FIRST=Badger

Operation and Configuration

Senate messages rely on contact form details tracked by the unitedstates/contact-congress project. This repo is cloned into a temporary directory by default. You can configure CongressForms to use an existing/persistent direcory with

CongressForms.contact_congress_repository = "data/contact_congress"

A git pull is performed every now and then in this direcory, to keep the form details up to date. You can disable this behavior with

CongressForms.auto_update_contact_congress = false

House messages are submitted through the Communicating with Congress API. You will need to complete the vendor application process, then configure the API client with

Cwc::Client.configure(
  api_key: ENV["CWC_API_KEY"],
  host: ENV["CWC_HOST"],
  delivery_agent: ENV["CWC_DELIVERY_AGENT"],
  delivery_agent_ack_email: ENV["CWC_DELIVERY_AGENT_ACK_EMAIL"],
  delivery_agent_contact_name: ENV["CWC_DELIVERY_AGENT_CONTACT_NAME"],
  delivery_agent_contact_email: ENV["CWC_DELIVERY_AGENT_CONTACT_EMAIL"],
  delivery_agent_contact_phone: ENV["CWC_DELIVERY_AGENT_CONTACT_PHONE"]
)

CWC Concerns

The CWC API requires that you connect from a whitelisted IP address. This is true even for the test endpoint, which makes development and testing of the API client tricky.

If you have a whitelisted IP, you can use SSH port forwarding to tunnel requests to CWC through the approved server. Keep this command running in a console:

$ ssh -L [port]:test-cwc.house.gov:443 [server]

Use https://localhost:[port]/ as your CWC host, and define these environment variables:

CWC_VERIFY_SSL=false
CWC_HOST_HEADER=test-cwc.house.gov

(substitute [server] and [port] with your own values)

Contributing

Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at https://github.com/efforg/congress_forms.

License

The gem is available as open source under the terms of the GPLv3 License.