Legislative History Research Guide

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

Congressional Record

Congressional debates include discussions for or against proposed bills and amendments, as well as explanations of provisions that are vague or unclear, so such debates can also be useful for legislative history research.

The Congressional Record contains a transcript of the legislative proceedings and debates on the floor of the House and Senate. The Congressional Record may contain arguments for or against a proposed bill or amendment or explanations of provisions that are vague or unclear. The text of the debates in the Congressional Record is not necessarily verbatim transcript.

The Congressional Record is published in two editions: the daily edition and the bound edition. The daily edition is published every day when Congress is in session. The paperbound daily edition has page numbers that begin with S (Senate), H (House), E (Extension of Remarks), and D (Daily Digest). The permanent "bound edition" is published very slowly (approximately four years) after the Daily Edition.

When citing to the Congressional Record, cite to the Bound Edition if available (last published is v. 152 in 2006). The page numbers in the two editions do not correspond, so you must rely on the indexes or identical searches in the Bound Edition and Daily Edition databases to find the corresponding records. There is no resource to help you compare the two page numbers.

The Congressional Record (1873 - ) and its predecessors -- Annals of Congress, Register of Debates and The Congressional Globe -- are widely available.  (For information on these earlier predecessor sources, consult the "Other Research Guides" listed below.)

Finding Debates

Congressional Record in Print

Other Research Guides