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Congressional Help: House and Senate Documents

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About House and Senate Documents

House and Senate documents are the class of publications issued by congressional committees or the full House or Senate that are numbered with the designation H. Doc. or S. Doc. This publication type can contain: Presidential messages proposing new legislation or vetoing legislation passed by Congress; special reports of executive branch agencies; congressional committee activity reports; committee-sponsored special studies and background information published as official documents rather than committee prints; annual reports of certain patriotic and veterans groups; memorial tributes; and compilations of background information related to annual intercollegiate and high school debate topics.

House and Senate documents are part of the Serial Set.

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Additional Information

Senate treaty documents are issued by the Senate when the President asks them to ratify a treaty. They generally contain the text of the Presidential communication supporting ratification of the treaty and the text of the treaty agreement itself.

Until 1991, treaty document content was issued in executive documents lettered sequentially within each session of Congress (e.g., Exec. Doc. A, 91-1). Executive documents with a lettered identification system were not included in the Serial Set until 1979 (96th Congress). Beginning in 1981, the executive document type of publication for treaty materials was replaced by the Senate treaty document publication type and included in the Serial Set. Senate treaty documents are numbered consecutively within each Congress (e.g., Treaty Doc. 99-1).

Once the President submits a treaty to the Senate for ratification, the treaty stays alive and carries the same publication number, regardless of the Congress, until it is ratified, defeated, or withdrawn.

The majority of the treaty documents concern treaties with foreign governments, but until 1870 they also included treaties with Indian tribes.

Until 1930, the Senate executive document content, including Presidential messages regarding treaties and nominations, were confidential. Originally non-confidential documents on executive branch matters that were included in the Serial Set were also classified as Senate executive documents, but beginning in 1895 the Serial Set executive branch documents were included in the broader Senate documents category.

The Serial Set also includes House executive documents from 1846-1895.

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  • Digital Complete Prospective also includes the Serial Set