Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Federal Legislative History: Pre-Research

Before You Begin

Before you begin your research, you should know the following two pieces of information:

  • The public law citation or the Statutes at Large citation (e.g. P.L. 107-56; 115 Stat. 272). Both can be found in the history section of your statute.
  • The bill number and Congress of the Act or Resolution (e.g. H.R. 3162 from the 107th Congress). If you have access to the print Statutes at Large, there is a table in the front of the volume that gives the bill number for the session law.  These can all be found electronically on Heinonline's U.S. Statutes at Large collection.

And, you will also need a systematic way to keep track of what you find. The link, below, is to a document designed to aid you in this process.

Hierarchy of Documents

From the most valuable to the least:

  1. Conference Committee Report
  2. Committee Reports
  3. Committee Prints
  4. Debates
  5. Bill
  6. Hearings
  7. Presidential Signing Statements

Take the Quiz