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Federal Legislative History Research: The Documents that make up Legislative History

Bills

Proposed legislation by the House or Senate.

 

Reports

The publications by which committees report to the Senate or House as a whole concerning the findings of their hearings and deliberations on bills reported out of committee. Reports usually include the text of the bill, analysis of each section, explanation of the committee's reasoning on every significant point, as well as recommendations and other information related to the enactment of the bill. Often considered the most authoritative of the legislative history documents. 

Hearings

When bills are introduced, they are referred to the committee having jurisdiction over that area of legislation.  Often, the committee will hold public hearings to gather opinions and information regarding the legislation. Many witnesses prepare valuable and well-documented presentations, including analysis from uniquely informed perspectives.

Committee Prints

Prepared by committee staff, agency specialists, or private consultants.Their purpose is to provide background information to committees concerning issues that may become the focus of legislative attention and to assist policy formulation. 

Debate

Text of House and Senate floor debate by legislators on specific bills. 

Public Laws

Enacted bills.