Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Legislative History Research Guide

This guide collects major sources for conducting legislative history research, including committee reports, hearings, bills, debates and more.

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Bills

For purposes of legislative history research, comparing the various versions of a bill as it moved throughout the legislative process may help in determining the intended meaning of the law.

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.

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