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Digital U.S. Bills and Resolutions: Bill Versions & Types

Coverage

Bills and resolutions are included in two modules within ProQuest Congressional.   1989-current ASCII/HTML is included in Congressional Basic.  PDF versions for 1789-present are included in the Digital Bills & Resolutions modules. 

Bills & Resolutions Coverage Updated Available to institutions with:
Bills & Res. Text (ASCII text) 1989-current Daily when Congress is in session Basic subscription
Bill Profiles (includes CRS Bill Digest) 1989-current Daily when Congress is in session Basic subscription
Bills & Res. PDF 1789-present   (Content to be added on an ongoing basis) Digital Bills & Resolutions module
Bill Profile- Composite    1789-present    (Content to be added on an ongoing basis) Digital Bills & Resolutions module

Full text availability

The availability of publications varies according to the purchase/subscription arrangement of individual institutions. Available full text may be accessed from the results records (i.e. the document abstract). All results records also provide you with sufficient information to locate paper or microfiche copies of the source documents within the library.

Status vs. Version

What is the difference between the Bill Status vs. the Bill Version?

You've noticed that there is a pull-down menu to allow you to search for Bill Version as well as another field with a pull-down menu for Bill Status, and each document has both a version and a status- some of them even appear to be the same, so what's the difference?

Think of "status" as a location along the time-line or chronology of the bill- the status is how far along the path the bill has proceeded. The bill starts out by being introduced, then it is referred to committee, then it is reported out of committee, etc. So sometimes we might want to find all bills introduced on a particular topic, or we are looking for bill with a particular STATUS. So we are looking at the bills from a chronological perspective. Another way that you might hear this described is the "stage" of the legislative process. A search using the Bill Status menu searches the chronology section of the Bill Tracking Report, and the Bill Status field of the Bill Text.

For example, for the current Congress, the 113th, has any Bill about Violence Against Women been Considered in the Senate?

Using the Advanced Search form, one would type Violence Against Women in the first search box, and select "All fields Except full-text", Limit to: Bills & Laws 1789-Present, and using the Bill Status menu, select: Considered in the Senate, Restrict by 113th Congress. The result is the Bill Tracking Report for 113 S. 47. There is no specific bill text printed for that point in time, but some Bill Statuses are the same as Bill Versions, so your results would include both bill text and bill tracking reports in that case.

As for versions of a Bill, each time a bill goes through a stage in the legislative process, it is printed by the GPO as a new version. So a bill version is a unique printed document.

A search for the bill versions searches the Bill Status field as well as the bill title, which may contain an abbreviation of the bill version or the bill version description. See this list of Bill Versions for a list of definitions and abbreviations. Unless you have searched for "Any version" your results will only include bill text.

For example, what if one wished to search for any bills from any Congress that mention the terms minumum wage that were referred in the House?

Using the Advanced Search form, I would type minimum wage in the first search box, and select "All fields including full-text", Limit to: Bills & Laws 1789-Present, and using the Bill Version menu, select: Referred in House. The results would include any mention bill version that is referred in the House.

Bill Status Pull-down Menu

When you select "Limit to" Bills & Laws only, you will see additional fields down the page. This helps you select specific bills to search. 

Bills vs. Resolutions

What is a bill?

 

H.R.

House Bill

S.

Senate Bill

 

A bill is a legislative proposal brought before Congress in either the House or the Senate. Bills introduced in the House are assigned sequential numbers in the order in which they are introduced and are preceded by "H.R.". Bills introduced in the Senate are assigned sequential numbers preceded by "S.".

  • The House adopted a sequential numbering system in which bills were numbered consecutively for an entire Congress in the 15th Congress (1817), and the Senate began using the same numbering system in the 30th Congress (1847). Prior to that time, the Senate numbering system provided that sequential numbering started anew at the beginning of each congressional session.
  • Bills within a single numbering sequence may be either public or private. Public bills pertain to matters that affect the general public or classes of citizens and become public laws if enacted. Private bills are concerned with relief or related actions with limited applicability and, if enacted, become private laws. The distinction between public and private bills has not always been clear, especially in bills from the earlier Congresses.

What is a simple resolution?
 

H. Res.

House Simple Resolution

S. Res.

Senate Simple Resolution

 

A simple resolution, H. Res. or S. Res., is a proposal that addresses matters entirely within the prerogative of one Chamber or the other. It requires neither the approval of the other Chamber nor the signature of the President, and it does not have the force of law. Simple resolutions concern the rules of one Chamber or express the sentiments of a single Chamber.

For example, a simple resolution may offer condolences to the family of a deceased Member of Congress, or it may express the opinion of one Chamber or the other on foreign policy or other executive business.

 

What is a joint resolution?

 

H.J. Res.

House Joint Resolution

S.J. Res.

Senate Joint Resolution
 

 

A joint resolution, H.J. Res. or S.J. Res., is a legislative proposal that requires the approval of both Chambers and the signature of the President, just as a bill does, in order to have the force of law.

  • Joint resolutions from each House are assigned a number in the order in which they are introduced. Joint resolutions may be introduced in either Chamber and generally are used for limited matters such as continuing or emergency appropriations or the designation of a commemorative holiday.
  • There is little practical difference between bills and joint resolutions, although only a joint resolution may be used to propose amendments to the Constitution. In the case of a Constitutional amendment, the signature of the President is not required, but three-quarters of the states must ratify the proposed amendment before it can become part of the Constitution.
  • Prior to the 77th Congress (1941), laws enacted by joint resolutions were numbered separately from bills in the Statutes at Large, but since that time there has been no distinction made between laws that were introduced as bills and laws that were introduced as joint resolutions.

What is a concurrent resolution?

 

H. Con. Res. House Concurrent Resolution
S. Con. Res. Senate Concurrent Resolution

 

A concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. or S. Con. Res., is a proposal that requires the approval of both Chambers, but does not have the force of law and does not require the signature of the President. Concurrent resolutions may be introduced in either the House or the Senate and, upon approval by both, are signed by the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate. Generally, concurrent resolutions are introduced to make or amend rules that affect the operations of both Chambers or to express the sentiment of both Chambers. For example, a concurrent resolution may be introduced to set the time of Congress' adjournment or to convey the congratulations of Congress to another country on the anniversary of its independence.

Note:

Beginning in the 55th Congress (1897), the concurrent resolutions passed by both Chambers have been printed as separate lists within the Statutes at Large.

 

Bill Version pull-down menu

When you "limit to" only Bill & Laws, you will see additional field further down the page to help you search for specific bills.