Locating Federal Legislative History Information in Print

  1.  Locating a Public Law Number
  2. The Public Law (or P.L.) Number is made up of the number of the Congress, then a hyphen and, finally, the order in which the law is enacted. If you know the United States Code (U.S.C.), United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.), or United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) citation associated with the law, you will find the Public Law Number at the end of the appropriate code's history section. If you do not know the code citation, but you do know the Popular Name for the law, you can use the Popular Names Table for the U.S.C., U.S.C.A., or U.S.C.S. to locate the appropriate code citation and Public Law Number. You can also use the popular name of the law to use the Congressional Information Service (CIS) Index of Legislative Histories' multi-volume Index or Subjects and Names Table to locate the public law number for legislation enacted after 1983. If you only have the year or Congress and the bill number for the law, then you can locate the public law number by using the Index of Bill Numbers in the multi-volume CIS Index of Legislative Histories to locate the bill number and year or Congress and, in turn, the associated Public Law Number.

    Locating a Bill Number
  3. A bill is proposed legislation that is introduced to the House and Senate, to be evaluated prior to the bill's possible enactment into law. When a bill is introduced, it is given a Bill Number. A bill number is made up of two parts. The first part recognizes where the bill was first introduced: S for Senate bills, or H.R. for House of Representatives bills. The second part is the assigned sequential identification number for the bill. If you know the Public Law Number or the Statutes at Large citation, you can utilize the United States Statutes at Large to locate the bill number of legislation enacted after 1901. With the Public Law number, you can locate legislation after 1983 by using the CIS Index of Legislative Histories. For the timeframe between 1970 to 1983, you can use the CIS Annual Abstract's section on Legislative Histories. If you are attempting to locate a bill number, and you only have the subject or topic of the legislation, you can use the subject index of the CCH Congressional Index.

    Locating Committee Report Citations
  4. A committee report is a helpful tool, because the committee that has jurisdiction over a particular law puts the report together. More than one committee may have jurisdiction over a bill. Therefore, more than one Committee Report may be available. The report will contain the opinions of the committee members, a comparison of the bill to the current law, and a cost-impact analysis. If you already have the report number, you can locate the citation, and some text of individual reports for laws enacted after 1941, in the U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N). If you have Reports numbers, abstracts, and references to CIS Microfiche, you can locate the citation for legislation from 1789 through 1969 in the CIS U.S. Serial Set index. For legislation after 1970, you can locate the citations in the CIS Index and Abstracts. The Status section of the CCH Congressional Index will provide you with citations after 1937.

    Locating Citations for Hearings on a Bill or Topic
  5. Hearings are testimony given by experts or people who will be affected by the bill, and they take place before a congressional committee. If you are provided with a piece of the following information at the beginning of your search - the bill number, the legal subject of the hearing, or the name of an individual who testified at the hearing - you can utilize the CIS Index, the Index of Subjects and Names, or the Index of Bill Numbers to locate the citation for legislation after 1970. For legislation between the years 1833 and 1969, you can locate a citation with the same data by looking in the CIS Congressional Committee Hearing Index.

    Locating Citations to Congressional Debates
  6. A Congressional Debate occurs when opposing points of view on a particular bill are presented. If you know that bill's number, the name of the sponsor, or the debate's subject matter, you can locate the Congressional debates citation for debates that occurred after 1873 by utilizing the Congressional Record Index.

    Locating Presidential Documents
  7. The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents contains messages and statements that are made by the President and released by the White House. Proclamations, Executive Orders, and Signing Documents are all available in U.S.C.C.A.N. from 1941 onward. You can locate Proclamations and Executive Orders in a few other sources. You can use the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) or the Federal Register (FR) for documents after 1936. Some selected Proclamations and Executive Orders from 1945 to 1989 are available in the Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders. The Presidential Executive Orders, Numbers 1-7403, provide information on Executive Orders from 1845 to 1936. If you are only looking for Proclamations, you can locate them from 1789 onward in the United States Statutes at Large (STAT). Finally, citations to presidential messages about particular bills are available from 1873 onward in the Congressional Record Index History of Bills and Resolutions.