The Source Documents Behind the News (A librarian reads the news...)

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New Congresses Undoing the Legislation of Previous Administrations: The source documents behind the news

The Primary Source Crusader (my own mashup of images)

People talk about Congress “rolling back” or “reversing” various legislation from the Obama administration. People who didn’t like that original legislation are relieved, and people who did like it feel cheated. So can they really do that so easily? What’s on the chopping block? And is this different from previous changes in Congressional or Executive power? Subject to my “source documents behind the news” caveats,* here’s what I’ve been able to gather on the topic.

Can they do that?

Yes. Since March 29, 1996, Congress can “disapprove” of previous legislation under Chapter 8 of 5 U.S.C. §802 as long as the Join Resolution is received by Congress within 60 legislative days (which in no way resemble calendar days) and then passes both the House and the Senate, plus any relevant committees, and is then approved by the President.

§802. Congressional disapproval procedure

(a) For purposes of this section, the term “joint resolution” means only a joint resolution introduced in the period beginning on the date on which the report referred to in section 801(a)(1)(A) is received by Congress and ending 60 days thereafter (excluding days either House of Congress is adjourned for more than 3 days during a session of Congress), the matter after the resolving clause of which is as follows: “That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the ____ relating to ____, and such rule shall have no force or effect.” (The blank spaces being appropriately filled in).

(b)(1) A joint resolution described in subsection (a) shall be referred to the committees in each House of Congress with jurisdiction.
(2) For purposes of this section, the term “submission or publication date” means the later of the date on which—

(A) the Congress receives the report submitted under section 801(a)(1); or
(B) the rule is published in the Federal Register, if so published.

What’s on the chopping block?

A record number (see below) of Joint Resolutions had been submitted in accordance with Chapter 8 of 5 U.S.C. Here is a complete list to date.

  • You can use the “Status of Legislation” filter on the left-hand navigation of the full list of these joint resolutions to explore these joint resolutions according to how far they’ve made it through the three major steps process of passing first one Chamber of Congress, then the second Chamber, and then the President. (These joint resolutions also have to go through any relevant committees, but those aren’t filterable in the same way.)
  • You can also use the “Subject – Policy Area” filter the full list of these joint resolutions by general topic (Energy, Environmental Protection, Financial Regulation, Eduction, etc).

How long until this window of time closes?

[Update: I’m pretty sure the window for new joint resolutions has closed]

It’s hard to say, since a legislative day can span or skip several calendar days and since there are several scenarios under which congress can introduce the joint resolution. The Congressional Research Service created an entire report out of it for this year. It all depends on how many times the chambers of Congress adjourn. The Congressional Record‘s Daily Digest is essentially the meeting minutes of Congress and lists when the chambers adjourn in the proceedings of each day.

Here is the congressional calendar archive, where calendars are available.

Is this rate of Congressional disapproval different from previous times when the balance of party power changed?

Using the History, Art & Archives of the House of Representatives and the Senate History, here are the times since 1996 (when the law being called upon was enacted) when power shifted between Republicans and Democrats, and how many times Congress employed Chapter 8 of 5 U.S.C. in each instance.

No shifts of party majority happened between 1996 and 2001.

2001 was complicated. The President changed from Democratic to Republican. The House remained Republican, as it had since 1995. The Senate was so evenly matched that it switched back and forth a few times (when the vice president changed party and then a couple senators switched affiliations). By November 2002 the Senate had settled back into being Republican majority, as it had been in since 1995.

  • Joint Resolutions Introduced: 12
  • Passed one chamber: 1
  • Successful Joint Resolutions: 1

2007 (midterm) – House and Senate both changed from Republican to Democratic. 

  • Joint Resolutions Introduced: 10
  • Passed one chamber: 1
  • Sent to the President: 0
  • Successful Joint Resolutions: 0

2009 – The President changed Republican to Democratic. The House and Senate remained Democratic.

  • Joint Resolutions Introduced: 13
  • Passed one chamber: 0
  • Successful Joint Resolutions: 0

2011 (midterm) – The House changed from Democratic to Republican. The Senate remained Democratic.

  • Joint Resolutions Introduced: 20
  • Passed one chamber: 2
  • Sent to the President: 0
  • Successful Joint Resolutions: 0

2015 (midterm) – The Senate changed from Democratic to Republican. The House remained Republican.

  • Joint Resolutions Introduced: 27
  • Passed one chamber: 6
  • Sent to the President: 5
  • Successful Joint Resolutions: 0 (all were vetoed)

2017 – The President changed from Democratic to Republican. The House and Senate remained Republican. (This section will be updated as needed – last updated 4/19/2017)

  • Joint Resolutions Introduced: 56
  • Passed one chamber: 15
  • Passed both chambers: 13
  • Sent to the President: 13
  • Successful Joint Resolutions: 13

Rules that have been “disapproved” and are therefore no longer in effect and cannot have similar rules reenacted later (full list, past and present)

  1. Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers (Disapproved in 2017)
  2. Savings Arrangements Established by Qualified State Political Subdivisions for Non-Governmental Employees (Disapproved in 2017)
  3. Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska (Disapproved in 2017)
  4. Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness (Disapproved in 2017)
  5. Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska (Disapproved in 2017)
  6. Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services (Disapproved in 2017)
  7. Federal-State Unemployment Compensation Program; Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 Provision on Establishing Appropriate Occupations for Drug Testing of Unemployment Compensation Applicants (Disapproved in 2017)
  8. Teacher Preparation Issues (Disapproved in 2017)
  9. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act-Accountability and State Plans (Disapproved in 2017)
  10. Resource Management Planning (Disapproved in 2017)
  11. Federal Acquisition Regulation; Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (Disapproved in 2017)
  12. Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (Disapproved in 2017)
  13. The Stream Protection Rule (Disapproved in 2017)
  14. Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers (Disapproved in 2017)
  15. Ergonomics Program (Disapproved in 2001)

This section was last updated on 4/19/2017.

* Two caveats: 1) Not all knowable things are knowable using official, original published sources, but that’s the limit I’ve set for myself even when that’s inconvenient or frustrating, and 2) I am a librarian trained in tracking down and evaluating sources — nothing more or less than that. I’m doing my best to find the most authoritative version of the primary sources behind the news, and I welcome suggestions and corrections.

Trump’s Immigration Actions: The source documents behind the news

The Primary Source Crusader (my own mashup of images)

NOTE: This executive order has now been superseded by a new executive order, 3/6/2017.

It can be hard to sort out reality from rumor, and it seems like whoever we’re talking to at the moment thinks our news sources are either too liberal or too conservative. Coupled with this, the rhetorical traditions and contexts of newspapers (liberal or conservative) don’t include the same conventions of citation that I depend on in order to evaluate claims (more on that another time). So what are the original sources that everyone’s reporting on and interpreting? I’ve decided that tracking down these primary sources makes a pretty good hobby for a librarian, so here’s what I’ve collected so far on the topic of Trump’s Executive Order on immigration.

But first, two caveats: 1) Not all knowable things are knowable using official, original published sources, but that’s the limit I’ve set for myself even when that’s inconvenient or frustrating, and 2) I am a librarian trained in tracking down and evaluating sources — nothing more or less than that. I’m doing my best to find the most authoritative version of the primary sources behind the news, and I welcome suggestions and corrections. If you or someone you know would like to add to my collection of primary sources, please let me know.

I will update this post as more information becomes available (and note any updates clearly).

Who does the Executive Order restrict from entering the United States, and for how long?

The Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” (January 27th, 2017) suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. [Edited to add: Here is information from the State Department on the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.]

It also suspends visas and entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants from Syria indefinitely and “from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12)” for 90 days. The paragraph concludes: “I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).” So which countries are referred to, specifically?

  • Section 277(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12) is part of the Visa Waiver Program for Certain Visitors. This particular section states that the Visa Waiver Program does not apply to people who have been to “Iraq, Syria, or any other country or area of concern,” regardless of these people’s nationality, since March 1, 2011 (meaning that people who have been to these countries would need visas to enter the United States). Countries or areas of concern will be decided by the Secretary of State.
  • In January 2016, when the Department of Homeland Security began implementing updates to the Visa Waiver Program (H.R. 158 – Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which had passed the House but then got rolled into H.R. 2029 – Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2015 and was signed into law that way on December 18th, 2015). At that time, DHS announced that Iran and Sudan were officially added to Iraq and Syria as countries of concern, bringing the total to 4.
  • In February 2016, the Department of Homeland Security announced that Libya, Somalia, and Yemen had been added to the list of countries of concern, bringing the total to 7.

After the Executive Order was signed, further official documents provided clarification and updates.

  • On January 27th, 2017 The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, Edward Ramotowski, issued an internal memo, which says: “I hereby provisionally revoke all valid immigrant and nonimmigrant visas of nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, subject to the exceptions discussed below.” Those exceptions are: “the following nonimmigrant classifications: A-1, A-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO, C-2, or certain diplomatic visas” and “any visa exempted on the basis of a determination made by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security” on a “case-by-case basis.” (This memo was made public as part of the Louhghalam et al v. Trump case 1:17-cv-10154 (D. Mass.). Information about that case, including links to all available primary sources associated with the case, are available through the University of Michigan Law School’s Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse.)
  • On January 29th, 2017, DHS Secretary John Kelly announced: “I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest,” making green cards a “dispositive factor” in the case-by-case analysis of immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States.

As of February 3rd, 2017 the main provisions of this Executive Order have been halted by Judge Robart’s Temporary Restraining Order.

Are Muslims banned?

The Executive Order does not mention specific religions in its current restrictions.

The only mention of religion as a factor in executing the provisions of this order comes in section 5(b), where it says that after the 120 day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, when that program resumes, the Secretary of State should “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” The CIA World Factbook includes official statistics on religious affiliation by country, which indicates that Muslims from these countries seeking refugee status will not be allowed to make their claims on the basis of religious-based persecution since Islam is not a minority religion in any of these countries.

[Update 2/4/2017] The class action lawsuit Al-Mowafak v. Trump, case 3:17-cv-00557 ( N.D. Cal. ) is explicitly testing the idea of the “Muslim ban” by using Trump’s tweets in conjunction with his Executive Order.

[Update 2/11/2017] The States of Washington & Minnesota v Trump case 2:17-cv-00141 (W.D. Wash.) is explicitly testing this question as well.

Is the Executive Order Legal?

Two sections of the United States Code deal with this question, one giving the President broad authority in this area and the other setting limits.

8 U.S. Code § 1182 – Inadmissible aliens (enacted in 1952) reads:

(f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

8 U.S. Code § 1152 – Aliens and Nationality (enacted in 1965) reads:

1) Nondiscrimination
(A) Except as specifically provided in paragraph (2) and in sections 1101(a)(27), 1151(b)(2)(A)(i), and 1153 of this title, no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.

Many court cases are currently testing the legality of the Executive Order and its ramifications. Official documents associated with these cases are available through the University of Michigan Law School’s Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse (which is useful because many legal documents are otherwise only available for a fee, even though PACER). Of particular note:

  • On February 3rd, 2017, Judge Robart issued a Temporary Restraining Order as part of the States of Washington & Minnesota v Trump case 2:17-cv-00141 (W.D. Wash.). This order says that the federal government is not allowed to enforce sections 3(c), 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), and 5(e) of the Executive Order. The order is nation-wide and in effect until we hear otherwise.
    • On February 3rd, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement via Facebook saying that the White House will block Judge Robart’s Temporary Restraining Order “at the earliest possible time” and citing 8 U.S. Code § 1182 as the legal grounds for the Executive Order. (Yes, Facebook was the official announcement vehicle. I triple checked.)
  • [Added 2/5/2017] The Al-Mowafak v. Trump case 3:17-cv-00557 ( N.D. Cal. ) is explicitly testing the question of whether Trump’s Executive Order is a “Muslim ban” and, because of that, its constitutionality. The complaint in this class action suit draws on Trump’s tweets to make its claims.

Is this Executive Order Like Obama Administration Immigration changes?

Legislative documents are searchable at, and official government documents of many kinds (including those of the Executive branch) are searchable via the Federal Register. I did a search of all bills immigration legislation from 2009 through 2016 and that mentioned immigration, aliens, refugees, or visas and that became law. I also did a search of all documents from Obama’s Executive Office of the President that mentions immigration, aliens, refugees, or visas. Sifting through the results, here are the items that stood out potentially relevant (if I missed anything, please let me know):

[Update 2/14/2017] Notable among Obama’s actions is the emphasis on “individual aliens” who have been found to violate laws or sanctions. This maintains the 14th Amendment‘s Due Process rights, which the courts have ruled apply to non-citizens as well as citizens. (See for example Hague v CIO: “Freedom of speech and of assembly for any lawful purpose are rights of personal liberty secured to all persons, without regard to citizenship, by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” And, “It has been explicitly and repeatedly affirmed by this Court, without a dissenting voice, that freedom of speech and of assembly for any lawful purpose are rights of personal liberty secured to all persons, without regard to citizenship, by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”)

Costs associated with this Executive Order

[Update 2/17/2017] Budgetary Impact Analysis for Executive Order Entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

Other useful sources on immigration and refugees

Notes about updates:

  • 2/5/2017 – updated “State of Washington v Trump” to “States Washington & Minnesota v Trump” in keeping with the updated official name of the case.

Downloadable EndNote Output Styles for MLA 8th Edition

Last time MLA changed its citation style, it took EndNote several years to update its built in MLA style. So if you’re looking for an Output Style to use with EndNote that conforms (as much as possible) to the new MLA Handbook, 8th Edition, I’ve created files you can download and install.

  1. Drag the two style files that you find in this folder into the Styles folder that EndNote looks at (you can see where your own installation is looking by going to Preferences > Folder Locations).
  2. Set MLA 8th as your output style by opening EndNote, clicking the “Edit” menu and then “Output Styles.” You may need to click on “Open Style Manager” the first time, at which point it might be useful to check the box next to the new MLA styles so that they’re listed with your other “favorites.”
  3. Download and read this ReadMe file that includes special instructions on using EndNote with this Output Style. (For the sake of convenience, I will also put the ReadMe information here in this blog post.)

If you run into problems or come up with improvements, please let me know!

Using the Style

To make sure that EndNote generates good citations, here are some important things to know:

  • URLs for web sources other than library databases should be included, but do not include the “http://“ or “https://“ part. You will have to make this edit individually in the records for your items as there is no way that I know of to programmatically take those prefixes out of the URL in EndNote.
  • Fill in the “Date” field with the day and month, but not year, like so: “21 Jan.”
  • If your work has no listed author, be sure to include a “short title” in your record because this is what will show up in your in-text citations.
  • If your work’s author is also the publisher, leave the Author field blank.
  • If you are focusing on an aspect of the work done by a person who is not the creator of the main content, put that person’s name in the “Author” field. Then put a descriptive label (editor, performer, translator, etc.) in the “Label” field.
  • If you are looking at an “unexpected type of work” (a transcript of a broadcast, a manuscript of a published work, etc), put a descriptive word into the “Type of work” field (such as “Transcript” or “Manuscript”).

Special Instructions by Reference Type

Web Page:

  • Add the name of the web page within a site to the “Title” field, and the name of the full web site to “Series Title” field.
  • Do not include the year of the “Last updated date” as that will be duplicated from the “year” field. Instead enter the date in the this way: “26 Jan.”
  • Add the name of the organization that sponsored or published the web site to the “Publisher” field.

Film or Broadcast:

  • If you are treating the director as an author, put the name into the “Director” field. If you are treating the director as an Other Contributor, put the name into the “Credits” field.


  • If your map is part of a collection that has a title (such as “Google Maps”) put that title into the “Series Title” field.


  • If you experienced a work first hand, put the location name (museum name, city name, etc) in the “Place Published” field.
  • If you found the work reproduced online, use the “Artwork” reference type and put the online database name in the “Database Name” field.
  • If you found the work reproduced in a book, magazine, etc., use the reference type that matches the thing where you found the reproduced artwork (“Book Section,” “Newspaper,” etc.)


  • Put the word “Manuscript” in the “Type of Material” field. If you are using the Manuscript field for something other than a manuscript, then put a similarly descriptive word in the “Type of Material” field.


The new MLA style gives people many, many options. Sadly, none of the reference managers that I know of are currently that flexible, so there are some things that are options in the style that people will not be able to do automatically using EndNote or any other software in their current states. Most notably, there is no good way, currently, to do the following:

  • Use a description (without quotation marks or italics) in place of a title for untitled works
  • Add the optional place of publication to citations
  • Add the optional access date to citations

To do these things and the other optional descriptive work allowed in the 8th edition, you’ll want to finish your final draft, save a new copy of your document, use the “Convert to plain text” option under “Tools” on your EndNote toolbar to break the connection with the EndNote program, and then do any final edits that the program cannot do for you.

Building a LibX Edition for Primo

As of yesterday, we’re a Primo library. So for the last couple of days we’ve been working to change all the things that need changing after you get a new catalog. One librarian is doing most of the work to change all of our links to our old catalog or items in the catalog in all of our LibGuides. Meanwhile, I took on trying to get LibX to recognize our new catalog.

The LibX thing turned out not to be the least bit straightforward, so I thought I’d post what I did in case a) you want to try this and can benefit from my hours of fumbling, or b) you are good at this and can help me make what I did better. I was helped to get this far by a librarian from the LSW.

Start an Edition

In the Edition Builder, it might be a good idea to first search for the Carleton College edition and copy that to use as a base, or you can click “Build a New Edition” on the right of the page.

From here, there’s one confusing thing that will help for the rest of the time. To find your edition and edit and test it, you’ll click on the “my editions” tab. Then click on the edition name on the lower left side. THEN click on the revision you want to work on in the list of revisions that shows up to the right of the “Select an Edition” box. THEN, if you don’t see a “Revision x is being worked on” notification, you’ll have to either click “Open Revision x (modify)” or, if you have a live revision that you want to modify you’ll have to click “Copy Revision x Forward.” At this point you’ll end up with tabs across the top to configure the various different functions of the LibX extension.

Configuring your Primo instance with LibX

You’ll need the Web Developer extension (chrome or firefox) to find the variable names LibX asks for. Once you’re armed with that, click on the “Catalogs & Databases” tab in the LibX Edition Builder for your new Edition.

LibX catalog

I tried to get LibX to auto-detect my catalog’s settings, but it kept saying that it couldn’t do it, so I had to resort to manual set-up. So under “Manual Configuration” I chose ExLibris Primo and then clicked “Add Catalog.” After this you’ll need to add information to both the “Required Settings” and the “Optional Settings” for the catalog (my edition didn’t work at all until I added some things to the “optional” settings… so apparently they aren’t terribly optional).

The URL you need is JUST the base URL up to the .com. All the other parameters that ExLibris puts into Primo URLs have to be added in other spots.

Then you’ll need to find things that LibX calls “Advanced Search Choice Variable 1,” “Advanced Search Mode Variable 1,” etc. Fire up the Web Developer “Inspector” tool and point it to the boxes I’ve labeled here:

advanced search variables

When you click the Inspector tool on the Advanced Search Choice Variable 1 (the first search box), you’ll find the variable name in the Web Developer browser pane:

variable name

Put that value into the corresponding field in LibX, finding and entering each of the variable names in the required fields in LibX.

You’ll find your VID in the standard URL for your catalog. I’ve bolded our VID in our URL here:

In the Optional settings, you’ll need to fill in 5 of the fields, as far as I can tell:

  1. In “Path” put “/primo_library/libweb”
  2. In “Search Function” put “search”
  3. In “Basic Mode Variable” try putting in “vl(1UIStartWith0)” — you may have to adjust this, but it’s worth a try.
  4. In “Tab Variable” put “default_tab”
  5. And in Title Search Mode put “contains”

Beyond the Catalog

The thing I use LibX most for is the added right-click context menu in my browser that allows me to reload the page through my library’s off-campus access, so I highly recommend putting your proxy information into the “Proxy Access” tab on the LibX Edition Builder.

You can also add your Open URL base url to the OpenURL Resolvers tab. If you do this and select a logo, then that logo will appear next to citations online, allowing you to click on the logo and check for library access. (You can add your own logo in the “File Management” tab.)

Testing your Edition

Back in the “My Editions” page, click on the Revision you’ve been working on and then click the link that appears below it called “revision test page.” If you can search your catalog through the test page, congratulations! If not, I don’t have a lot of advice beyond asking around and maybe trying to have the LibX folks help you out (you can click “help me with x edition” in the “Select an Edition” box to the left of the list of revisions).

Go Live

Once things are ready, click on the revision you’ve been perfecting and then click “Make Revision x Live.”  Now people will be able to download the LibX extension for Chrome or Firefox, tell it which library they want, and start using it.