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U.S. Federal Documents

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Congressional Information

Guide to Government Publications Series

Legislative Process and Publications

The legislative process or legislative history of a bill/resolution means tracing its steps from introduction to passage into law or failure to pass with the end of a congress. The process includes dates and types of documents resulting in each step. The process includes the bill/resolution, the congressional hearing or testimony, and the reports issued by the committee(s). If the legislation passes both houses, it is presented to the president and if signed becomes a law. The power of the President to refuse to approve a bill or joint resolution and thus prevent its enactment into law is the veto. The President has ten days (excluding Sundays) to sign a bill passed by Congress There are thousands of bills introduces for each congress but only hundreds become law.

From the senate Legislative process; how a senate bill becomes a law

See the Senate’s legislative process.
The most precise information for tracing legislation is the bill number since many bills on the same subject may be introduced in both the House and the Senate. The Congressional record and its earlier titles includes a section entitled History of bills and resolutions and indexes bills/resolutions by subject.

The Senate web page provides some information also.
The House of Representatives web page also provides legislative history information. See Clerk of the House for roll call votes as well as the Congressional record.

Bills and resolutions
1789-1931/32 (1st –72nd) mfilm n.s. 35 Green Media-Microtext
1933/34-1987/88 (73rd-100th) mfiche 1267 Green SSRC-fiche
1969/70 (91st ) to date
9993/94 (103rd) to date
1989/90 (101st) to date

Committee hearings
Check Socrates for classification numbers (Y4 ) for print collection. Hearings are also available on microfiche from earliest to 1956 (mfiche 34) and selectively GPO Access

Committee prints
Check Socrates for classification numbers (Y4 ) for print collection. Prints are also available on microfiche from earliest to 1969 (mfiche 216); 1969 to date (mfiche 57) and selectively GPO Access

Committee reports
Y1.1/2: serial set fed-docs
Earliest through 1969 mfiche 1808 SSRC-fiche
1995/96 (104th) to date
1820 (16th) to date
1989/90 (91st) to date

Congressional record: debates and proceedings on the floor of the congress1789 to date. Earlier titles include Annals of congress, Debates, and Congressional globe. Print collection shelved in fed-docs stacks (X/congress/date)
1994 to date
1985/86 (99th) to date


Last modified: June 17, 2008

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