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Topic: Federal Legislative History and Analysis — Congressional Record

Tools and resources for researching the evolution of a law using the primary documents - the bill, committee reports, hearings, etc. - and secondary analysis of the legislation and federal policy.

Congressional Record

Published daily, the Congressional Record is a record of debate, amendments, and voting on the floor of the House and Senate. The Record (and its precursors) has pagination that begins with the first day of a congressional session and runs continuously throughout the session.

  •  References to debate of particular legislation in the Congressional Record will be included in any legislative history, with dates of debate, if not specific page numbers.
  • The Congressional Record (and its precursors) includes an Index volume for each session of Congress which includes entries for subjects, Representatives & Senators' names, and beginning with the Congressional Record, a Summary of Bills

Using the 'History of Bills' section of the Congressional Record

The 'History of Bills' section in the Index volume of the Congressional Record provides a brief legislative history for every bill introduced during the session.  To use the 'History of Bills' section follow the steps in this example of a search for S. 5621, 71st Cong. Third Session (1931)

  1. select the appropriate volume of the Congressional Record in Hein Online
  2. Select the Index volume from the list of parts of the Congressional Record for the session (the Index will come at the end of the list of parts)
  3. The History of Bills and Resolutions section appears at the end of the Table of Contents for the Index volume. Select the appropriate section (in this case, Senate Bills) section from the Table of Contents: 

  4. Use the Page navigation pulldown menu to navigate to the appropriate page (this can take a lot of browsing but bills are in numeric order).  Look for committee report numbers (proceeded with an abbreviation for the report type) and references to page numbers in the Congressional Record (whole numbers). Navigate back to the appropriate volume and part number in the Congressional Record based on these page numbers.