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Federal Legislative History: Floor Debates (Ref. # 5)


Floor Activity (Debates, Votes)

Flowchart reference number 5.

Congressional Globe

Vols. 1-46 pt. 3 (1833-1873)

Beginning in 1833, a newspaper type publication, the Congressional Globe, began daily coverage of congressional proceedings, with bound cumulative volumes being published at the end of a session. Published by Francis Preston Blair and John Cook Rives, coverage continued to 1873 (the 23d to the 42d Congress). The Globe, at least initially, was not considered a verbatim account, but, according to its early subtitle, provided only "sketches of the debates and proceedings." The Globe was thought to be more partisan with many members claiming to be misrepresented or not reported at all. Members could, however, submit a copy of the full text of their speeches to be included in an appendix to be published at the end of a congressional session.The Congressional Globe is organized by congressional session and arranged in consecutively numbered pages, with three columns per page. Although each Congressional Globe volume represents one congressional session, after volume 14, covering the second session of the 28th Congress (1844-1845), volume numbers were no longer noted, or noted inconsistently, in the text of the Globe and were replaced by the phrase "New Series."

Congressional Record

Vols. 1-155 pt. 16 (1873- )

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. The Congressional Record began publication in 1873, and is still published today. 

Note: Debates for sessions prior to 1873 are recorded in The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (1789-1824), the Register of Debates in Congress (1824-1837), and the Congressional Globe (1833-1873).

The Congressional Record began publication in 1873 (43d Congress) when Congress decided that it would be more economical and satisfactory to publish its debates and proceedings under its own direction. Since that time, whenever Congress has been in session, the Record has been published daily by the Government Printing Office (GPO). Each Congressional Record volume covers one congressional session with consecutively numbered pages. A permanent hardbound edition of the Congressional Record is published after the conclusion of a congressional session, but the numeric sequence of pages differs significantly from the numeric sequence of the daily edition.

The Congressional Record contains House and Senate floor proceedings, substantially verbatim transcripts of floor debate and remarks, notice of all bills introduced, full text of all conference committee reports, notices of committee and Presidential actions and communications, and statements or documents submitted by members of Congress for publication. Members of Congress can add speeches or revisions to remarks not delivered on the floor. 

Congressional Record Daily 

Vols. 126- (1980- )

Non-substantive changes can be made by members before the daily edition is published and again before the hardbound permanent edition is published. The daily edition is usually available the morning after that day's proceedings. The bound edition usually takes several years to be published after a congressional session ends. In the daily edition of the Record, between the Extension of Remarks and Daily Digest sections, on various days during the week, is placed a list of members of Congress, member committee assignments, House and Senate officers, Supreme Court justices with the circuits assigned to them, and a helpful page entitled " Laws and Rules for Publication of the Congressional Record."

Source: An Overview of the Congressional Record and Its Predecessor Publications:  A Research Guide

Finding Debates (Congressional Record)

Organized by date.