Compiling a federal legislative history can be complicated. The following guide offers a selected list of which sources to consult and where to find them.
Always Start with the Text of the Law…
United States Code:
Contains all public and permanent federal laws currently in force and is arranged by subject matter.
Public Laws (United States Statutes at Large):
When enacted, a law is assigned a sequential public law number and is printed in slip form (slip laws).
After legislative session ends, public laws are printed chronologically in U.S. Statutes at Large (session laws).
…then, Consult the Legislative History
Assigned sequential numbers within each Chamber.
Multiple versions reflect stages in the legislative process.
Conference Committee Reports:
After passage in both chambers, members from each meet to resolve differences between two versions of the bill. Report contains the agreed-upon language of the bill and an explanation of the compromise.
Floor Debate (Congressional Record):
Contains verbatim account of the proceedings and debate of Congress, as well as inserted materials and communications from the President and exec agencies.
Committee members report and make recommendations to the House or Senate as a whole.
Hearings are held to enable committees to gather opinions and information on proposed legislation.
For assistance locating any legislative history documents, contact a reference librarian.
* This source contains the most complete holdings
Submitted by Bonnie Shucha on November 11, 2011
This article appears in the categories: Law Library/IT