A Ruby gem that extracts press releases and statements by members of Congress.
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Statement parses RSS feeds and HTML pages containing press releases and other official statements from members of Congress, and produces hashes with information about those pages. It has been tested under Ruby 1.9.3 and 2.x.


Statement currently parses press releases for members of the House and Senate. For members with RSS feeds, you can pass the feed URL into Statement. For members without RSS feeds (or with broken ones), HTML scrapers are provided, as are methods for special groups, such as House Republicans. Suggestions are welcomed.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'statement'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install statement


Statement provides access to press releases, Facebook status updates and tweets from members of Congress. Most congressional offices have RSS feeds but some require HTML scraping.

To configure Statement to pull from the Twitter and Facebook APIs, you can pass in configuration values via a hash or a config.yml file:

require 'rubygems'
require 'statement'
Statement.configure(:oauth_token => token, :oauth_token_secret => secret, ...) # option 1
Statement.configure_with("config.yml") # option 2

If you don't need to use the Twitter or Facebook APIs, you don't need to setup configuration.

Press Releases

To parse an RSS feed, simply pass the URL to Statement's Feed class:

require 'rubygems'
require 'statement'

results = Statement::Feed.from_rss('http://blumenauer.house.gov/index.php?option=com_bca-rss-syndicator&feed_id=1')
puts results.first
{:source=>"http://blumenauer.house.gov/index.php?option=com_bca-rss-syndicator&feed_id=1", :url=>"http://blumenauer.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=2203:blumenauer-qwe-need-a-national-system-that-speaks-to-the-transportation-challenges-of-todayq&amp;catid=66:2013-press-releases", :title=>"Blumenauer: &quot;We need a national system that speaks to the transportation challenges of ...", :date=>#<Date: 2013-04-24 ((2456407j,0s,0n),+0s,2299161j)>, :domain=>"blumenauer.house.gov"}

Statement will try to parse a date if an RSS feed contains a PubDate element; if not it will return nil.

If you have a batch of RSS URLs, you can pass them to Feed's batch class method, which will use Typhoeus to fetch them in parallel and returns a two-element array of results and failed urls:

urls = ['http://aderholt.house.gov/common/rss//index.cfm?rss=20', 'http://andrews.house.gov/rss.xml', "http://alexander.house.gov/common/rss/?rss=24", "http://amash.house.gov/rss.xml"]
results, failures = Statement::Feed.batch(urls)

The sites that require HTML scraping are detailed in individual methods, and can be called individually or in bulk:

results = Statement::Scraper.billnelson
members = Statement::Scraper.member_scrapers

Facebook Updates

Using the koala gem, Statement can fetch Facebook status feeds, given a Facebook ID. You'll need to either set environment variables APP_ID and APP_SECRET or create a config.yml file containing app_id and app_secret keys and values.

f = Statement::Facebook.new
results = f.feed('RepFincherTN08')

It also can process IDs in batches by passing an array of IDs and a slice argument to indicate how many ids in each batch:

f = Statement::Facebook.new
results = f.batch(facebook_ids, 10)

In all cases Statement strips out posts that are not by the ID, and returns a Hash containing attributes from the feed:

{:id=>"9307301412_10151632750071413", :body=>"This is Gold Star Mother Larraine McGee whose son, Christopher Everett, Army National Guard, was killed in action September 2005. Precious family.", :link=>"http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151632750021413&set=a.118418671412.133511.9307301412&type=1&relevant_count=1", :title=>nil, :type=>"photo", :status_type=>"added_photos", :created_time=>#<DateTime: 2013-05-28T14:49:08+00:00 ((2456441j,53348s,0n),+0s,2299161j)>, :updated_time=>#<DateTime: 2013-05-28T17:41:37+00:00 ((2456441j,63697s,0n),+0s,2299161j)>, :facebook_id=>"9307301412"}


Using the twitter gem, Statement can retrieve individual user timelines or list timelines:

t = Statement::Tweets.new
[{:id=>344168849484169216, :body=>"Check out the @GOPLeader's weekly schedule for the House this week. http://t.co/mh3FZnK4a8", :link=>"http://majorityleader.gov/floor/weekly.html", :in_reply_to_screen_name=>nil, :total_tweets=>699, :created_time=>2013-06-10 15:07:02 -0400, :retweets=>0, :favorites=>0, :screen_name=>"Robert_Aderholt"}...]

Note that the created_time attribute is a Ruby Time object, as returned by the twitter gem.

To retrieve a list's timeline, pass in the list slug and the owner (defaults to nil):

t = Statement::Tweets.new
[:id=>343541632844587008, :body=>"On the Skagit river getting a close-up view of the bridge repairs. http://t.co/SMsdwiFaR6", :link=>nil, :in_reply_to_screen_name=>nil, :total_tweets=>226, :created_time=>2013-06-08 21:34:42 -0400, :retweets=>1, :favorites=>2, :screen_name=>"RepDelBene"}..]


Statement uses MiniTest, to run tests:

$ rake test


Statement would not be nearly the library it is without our contributors, and we sincerely thank them for their generosity and interest in making congressional press release data more available.

  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request

If you write a new scraper, please use Nokogiri for parsing - see some of the existing examples for guidance. The domain attribute represents the URI base domain of the source site.