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Congressional Help: Legislative Histories

Contents

Please note: the content viewed in ProQuest® Congressional varies according to the subscriptions/purchases of individual institutions.

About Legislative Histories

Legislative histories trace the development of a public law from its early consideration to its enactment, including development that spans more than one Congress.

Congress produces a variety of publications as a bill moves through the legislative process on its way to becoming a law. A compilation of these full text primary source publications produces a legislative history that is valuable to a wide variety of researchers.  Publication types associated with a legislative history include the Public Law, all versions of enacted and related bills, Congressional Record excerpts, and committee hearings, reports, and documents. All of these publication types can be used in court to determine the intent of Congress in enacting legislation in cases where the statutory language is ambiguous. Legislative histories are also used by researchers interested in government, US history, political science, public administration, international relations, and many other disciplines.

If you have access to Legislative Insight you can use that product to view enhanced and historical Legislative Histories.  ProQuest Congressional provides links to Legislative Insight for users with access to that product.

Accessing

Use the Basic Search Form, Advanced Search Form, or Search By Number Form

These forms are found under the Congressional or the Legislative & Executive Publications links in the menu bar across the top of the interface.

Use these search criteria:

  • Keyword (on Advanced Search: Anywhere or Anywhere except full text)
  • Title
  • Subject
  • Public law number
  • Statues at Large citation
  • Enacted bill number

 

 

Contents of a Legislative History

Each legislative history contains an abstract of the public law, bibliographic citations (title, date, collation, CIS Accession number, and Statutes at Large citation), and controlled vocabulary subject indexing.

For Legislative histories from 1998 (106th Congress) to the present, the following categories of publications are cited in each history to which they relate:

  • SLIP LAW - access by clicking Public Law Number link
  • ENACTED BILL - access bill text by clicking bill number; access bill tracking report by clicking the Retrieve Bill Tracking Report link
  • RELATED BILLS - access bill text by clicking bill number; access bill tracking through links within bill texts records
  • DEBATE - access daily Congressional Record excerpts by clicking page number links
  • COMMITTEE REPORTS - access abstract and indexing records by clicking report links; access available full text from the abstract and indexing records
  • COMMITTEE HEARINGS - access abstract and indexing records by clicking hearing links; access available transcript and submitted statement text from the abstract and indexing records
  • COMMITTEE PRINTS - access abstract and indexing records by clicking committee print links; access available full text from the abstract and indexing records
  • HOUSE & SENATE DOCUMENTS - access abstract and indexing records by clicking document links; access available full text from the abstract and indexing records
  • MISCELLANEOUS - including citation to Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Presidential statements issued upon signing of the law

Collections

Legislative Insight: a more robust set of legislative histories from 1789-present is available from Legislative Insight. ProQuest Congressional provides links to Legislative Insight for users with access.

Legislative Insight offers additional content types, including Committee prints, CRS reports, miscellaneous congressional publications, and Presidential signing statements; and has unique functionality suited to legislative history research