This guide lists and describes many of the publications produced as a result of the lawmaking process that can be very useful to students researching Congress, public policy or social issues. The documents can be found in multiple formats and in various locations. Listed below the descriptions are the finding tools and dates of coverage to enable you to quickly locate the full text of publications you need. In addition to the sources below, you can also use the online Library Catalog.
Congressional Record: The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings, debates, and activities of Congress. It is mostly a verbatim record but also contains related inserted materials. See "An Overview of the Congressional Record and Its Predecessor Publications" from the Law Librarians Society of Washington D.C.
Committee Hearings: Hearings document meetings or sessions of Congressional committees for the purpose of obtaining information on proposed legislation, conduct investigations, oversee the activities of a government department or agency, or discuss a current issue. Hearings are held on a wide variety of topics.
Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports: CRS is a service of the Library of Congress whose purpose is to provide Congress with nonpartisan and objective research and analysis on public policy issues. CRS researchers are scholars in their particular fields of expertise usually holding advanced degrees. CRS Reports are not distributed via the Federal Depository Library Program but are available as follows (the websites vary in dates and subjects covered):
Committee Prints: Prints are issued by congressional committees on topics related to the work of the committee or research activities. Each committee differs on the type of documents they order to be published as a committee print but you might find draft reports and bills, directories, statistical materials, hearings, legislative analyses and compilations of legislation enacted by the committee.
House and Senate Documents: Originate in committee and cover a wide range of topics and may include reports of executive departments and independent agencies, reports of special investigations and annual reports of non-governmental organizations.
House and Senate Reports: Originate in committee and deal with proposed legislation.
GAO Reports: Reports on audits, surveys, investigations, and evaluations of Federal Programs conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO is the "investigative arm of Congress" and provides accountability of the federal government to its citizens.
Serial Set: An incredibly vast collection of publications compiled under the directive of Congress starting in 1789 and continually added to. Contains detailed information on a wide range of topics that taken together provide a comprehensive history of federal government activities. The set includes documents, reports, treaty documents and other miscellaneous publications.
Legislative Process: To learn about the process by which laws are proposed and enacted and the various types of publications produced.
Bills, Bill tracking and Legislative Histories: Enable users to track the development of a law from when it was first introduced in Congress in bill form (legislative proposals brought before Congress in either the House or the Senate) through its enactment. For a description of the different versions of a bill (changes are made as the bill travels through the legislative process) see Congressional Publications. On the advanced search screen you can click on the information icon next to the Bills & Laws limiter. (Hofstra University only).
Historical Proceedings of Congress
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