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Federal Legislative History

Legislative process, bills, reports, hearings, debates, etc. will be covered in this guide.


Legislative documents are often used by attorneys and courts in an attempt to determine congressional intent or to clarify vague or ambiguous statutory language. All legislative documents are only persuasive legal authority; however, committee reports are usually considered to have the most persuasive value. This guide will first discuss the types of documents that come out of the legislative process and their use, and will then set out the methods of locating legislative documents for enacted legislation.

This guide does not discuss locating legislative documents for bills that failed to pass, pending legislation, or state laws. For assistance with these types of legislative research, stop by the Reference Desk and ask a reference librarian.