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Library for interacting with the Sunlight Labs API

Project description

Python library for interacting with the Sunlight Labs API.

The Sunlight Labs API provides legislator information and district lookups.


python-sunlightapi is a project of Sunlight Labs (c) 2010. Written by James Turk <>.

All code is under a BSD-style license, see LICENSE for details.



The package can be installed via pip, easy_install or by downloading the source and running python install.


python >= 2.4

simplejson >= 1.8 (not required with python 2.6, will use built in json module)


To initialize the api, all that is required is for it to be imported and for an API key to be defined.

(If you do not have an API key visit to register for one.)

Import sunlight from sunlightapi:

>>> from sunlightapi import sunlight, SunlightApiError

And set your API key:

>>> sunlight.apikey = 'your-key-here'

legislators methods

The legislators namespace is comprised of several functions:
  • legislators.get - get a single legislator

  • legislators.getList - get zero or more legislators

  • - fuzzy search for legislators by name

  • legislators.allForZip - get all legislators representing a zipcode

  • legislators.allForLatLong - get all legislators representing a point

get and getList

legislators.get and legislators.getList both take any number of parameters and return all legislators that match the provided criteria. These parameters are also the ones returned in each legislator object.

The available parameters are:
  • title

  • firstname

  • middlename

  • lastname

  • name_suffix

  • nickname

  • party

  • state

  • district

  • in_office

  • gender

  • birthdate

  • phone

  • fax

  • website

  • webform

  • email

  • congress_office

  • bioguide_id

  • votesmart_id

  • fec_id

  • govtrack_id

  • crp_id

  • eventful_id

  • congresspedia_url

  • twitter_id

  • official_rss

  • youtube_url

  • senate_class

  • birthdate

To get the representative that represents NC-4:

>>> print(sunlight.legislators.get(state='NC', district='4'))
Rep. David Price (D-NC)

legislators.getList works much the same way, but returns a list. It is possible to do a more complex query, for instance “all legislators from New York that are Republicans”:

>>> for leg in sunlight.legislators.getList(state='NY', party='R'):
...     print(leg)
Rep. Pete King (R-NY)
Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY)

It is preferred that you do not call getList without parameters as it will pull down all legislators, if you need to do this feel free to grab the provided dump of the API data available at


legislators.allForZip retrieves all legislators that represent a given zipcode.

This typically means two senators and one (or more) representatives.

To get all legislators that represent the 27511 zipcode:

>>> for legislator in sunlight.legislators.allForZip(27511):
...     print(legislator)
Rep. David Price (D-NC)
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC)


legislators.allForLatLong retrieves all legislators representing a given point.

This is a shortcut for calling districts.getDistrictFromLatLong and then looking up the district representative and state senators.

To get all legislators that represent a location in western PA at 41.92, -80.14:

>>> for legislator in sunlight.legislators.allForLatLong(41.92, -80.14):
...     print(legislator)
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA)
Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA)

districts methods

The districts namespace is comprised of two functions:
  • districts.getDistrictsFromZip

  • districts.getDistrictFromLatLong


districts.getDistrictsFromZip fetches all districts that overlap a given zipcode.

To get all districts that overlap 14623:
>>> for district in sunlight.districts.getDistrictsFromZip(14623):
...     print(district)


districts.getDistrictFromLatLong finds the district that a given lat-long coordinate pair falls within.

To find out what district 61.13 N, 149.54 W falls within:
>>> print(sunlight.districts.getDistrictFromLatLong(61.13, 149.54))

This point is in fact in Anchorage, Alaska, so this is correct.

committee methods

The committee namespace contains:
  • committee.getList

  • committee.get

  • committee.allForMember


committee.getList gets all committees for a given chamber (House, Senate, or Joint).

To see all joint committees for the current congress:
>>> for c in sunlight.committees.getList('Joint'):
...     print(c)
Joint Economic Committee
Joint Committee on Printing
Joint Committee on Taxation
Joint Committee on the Library


committee.get gets full details for a given committee, including membership and subcommittees.

Example of getting details for a committee:

>>> com = sunlight.committees.get('HSAG')
>>> print(
House Committee on Agriculture
>>> for sc in com.subcommittees:
...     print(sc)
Subcommittee on  Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research
Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry
Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture
Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry
Subcommittee on Rural Development, Biotechnology, Specialty Crops, and Foreign Agriculture
>>> for m in com.members:
...     print(m)
Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA)
Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH)
Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
Rep. Bobby Bright (D-AL)
Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA)
Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS)
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX)
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA)
Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)
Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL)
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)
Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA)
Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL)
Rep. Steven Kagen (D-WI)
Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC)
Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD)
Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH)
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO)
Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA)
Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID)
Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND)
Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI)
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
Rep. David Scott (D-GA)
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE)
Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-PA)
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN)


All for legislator shows all of a legislator’s committee and subcommittee memberships.

note that the subcommittees included are only the subcommittees that the member has a seat on

Showing all of a legislators committees and subcommittees:
>>> for com in sunlight.committees.allForLegislator('S000148'):
...    print(com)
...    for sc in com.subcommittees:
...        print('   '+str(sc))
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
Senate Committee on Finance
   Subcommittee on International Trade and Global Competitiveness
   Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy
   Subcommittee on Taxation, IRS Oversight, and Long-term Growth
Joint Committee on the Library
Joint Economic Committee
Senate Commmittee on the Judiciary
   Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts
   Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
   Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs
   Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security
   Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security
Joint Committee on Printing
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
   Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment
   Subcommittee on Financial Institutions
   Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development

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