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How to Find Congressional and Legislative Information: Home

This guide provides an overview of how to search for and find Congressional and legislative information.

About this LibGuide

Knowing how to search for and locate Congressional and legislative information is a skill that you can master. Primary sources, like officially published documents, can give you a report of what Congress is working on and what it has accomplished. This guide has three learning outcomes:

  • Students will discover the value of the government information sources presented in this LibGuide. 
  • Students will learn what types of publications are produced through the course of the federal legislative process and what information is contained in them.
  • Students will learn how to to search and find relevant congressional publications using Congress.gov and GovInfo.gov for their coursework.

Through this guide, you can become confident in finding Congressional information through Congress.gov and GovInfo.gov. 

What is Congressional Information?

Congressional Information consists of documents produced by Congress and documents covering the activities of Congress.

What kind of documents are produced by Congress?

Documents produced by Congress include committee reports, committee prints, and texts of treaties.

Documents covering Congress include the Congressional Record, and the Congressional Serial Set.

Where can I find Congressional Information?

Most, if not all Congressional Information can be found on two, regularly updated websites: Congress.gov and GovInfo.gov. Both websites contain comprehensive databases that can be searched to find Congressional Information.

  

Terms to Know

These terms are important to know while browsing this guide:

  • Congress - The Legislative Branch of the United States Government which makes up both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. "Congress" can also refer to numerical versions of Congress (i.e, "117th Congress") which changes every two years during midterm elections.
  • Legislation - Laws.
  • Bills - Proposed legislation (or proposed laws).
  • Committee - Groups of members who "investigate, debate, and report on legislation" (Office of the Clerk, n.d.)
  • Members - Elected officials in Congress consisting of Senators and Representatives.
  • Treaties - Executive Documents/Senate Treaties: "binding agreements between nations [which] become part of international law" (United States Senate, n.d.).

The Legislative Process

The video below provides an overview of the legislative process of the U.S. Congress.

Citations

Library of Congress. (2013). Congress.gov: Overview of the legislative process [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1CIWwu6KdQ&ab_channel=LibraryofCongress

Office of the Clerk, US House of Representatives. (n.d.). Member committees. https://kids-clerk.house.gov/middle-school/lesson.html?intID=34#:~:text=Committees%20are%20groups%20of%20Members,the%20first%20Congress%20in%201789. 

United States Senate. (n.d.) About treaties. https://www.senate.gov/about/powers-procedures/treaties.htm#