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Federal Legislative History

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


Introduction of a bill into Congress is the first step of the formal legislative process. After a bill is introduced, it is assigned a bill number, printed, and referred to a committee. Bills are frequently amended throughout the legislative process and may be printed several times before they are finally passed. Comparing the various versions of a bill as it moved throughout the legislative process may help in determining the intended meaning of the law. Arguments regarding the meaning of a statutory section may be drawn based on the inclusion, deletion, or modification of language in the text of the bill. Note, too, that the bill number is one of the keys to tracing legislative history.

Where to Find Bills

The full text of bills is available as follows:

Historical bills: