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Federal Legislative Material

boston college law library

United States Constitution

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: Password required for LexisNexis and Westlaw
  • Description: Text of U.S. Constitution available from GPO Access; Constitution with analysis and annotations of U.S. Supreme Court opinions prepared by Congressional Research Service; commentary on U.S. Constitution also found at CQ Supreme Court Collection; LexisNexis (filename USCNST) offers annotated Constitution; Westlaw (filename USCA) offers annotated Constitution. Law Library of Congress provides links to historical text of Constitution and related sources.

United States Code

  • Dates: Current code
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe
  • Description: Text of the current official U.S. Code as prepared by the Office of Law Revision Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives; site includes classification tables for current and previous Congress. Congressional Universe provides its own search interface to the official code.

Annotated Versions of the United States Code

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: Password required for LexisNexis and Westlaw
  • Description: LexisNexis (filename USCS) provides current annotated text of Code; Westlaw (filname USCA) provides current annotated code and Constitution in one file. Archival code files available: LexisNexis (filename USARCH); Westlaw (filename USCA90, for example).

Session Laws

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe; password required for LexisNexis and Westlaw
  • Description: Text of Public Laws: Congressional Universe allows access to Public Laws from 100th Congress to present; GPO Access provides text in ASCII and pdf formats from 104th Congress to present; LexisNexis (filename PUBLAW); Library of Congress, American Memory Project, has digitized Statutes at Large from 1789 to 1875; Thomas Congressional site offers Public Laws from 93rd Congress to present; Westlaw (filename US-PL for current Congress; earlier session laws in filename US-PL-OLD). Text of Private Laws: GPO Access provides text of Private Laws in ACSII and pdf formats from 104th Congress to present; HeinOnline offers all public and private laws from 1789 to present; Thomas Congressional site offers Private Laws from 96th Congress to present; CQ Congress Collection provides analysis of legislative voting behavior, biographical data, and text of legislation from 1944.

Bill Text and Bill Tracking Information

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for C.Q. Weekly and Congressional Universe; password required for LexisNexis, Westlaw
  • Description: Full-text of legislation (bills) and status of legislation. Congressional Universe provides access to bill text and tracking from 101st Congress (1989-1990) to present; GPO Access allows for searching text of bills from 103rd Congress to present and lists bill history from 1983 to present; LexisNexis (filenames BTXT107 for 107th Congress bill text, BLT107 for 107th Congress bill tracking information, for example) provides access to bill text and tracking information from 101st Congress to present; Library of Congress, American Memory Project, has digitized all bills and resolutions from 16th Congress (1819-1820) to the 42nd Congress (1871-1873); Thomas provides full-text bills from 101st Congress to present and bill summaries and tracking information from 93rd Congress to present; Westlaw offers access to bill text from 104th Congress to present (filename CONG-BILL for current Congress; CONG-BILLTXT106, etc.) and bill tracking information from 1991 to present (filenames BILLTRK and BILLTRK-OLD). CQ Weekly provides for bill tracking on major legislation as well as status of appropriations measures. Today in Congress provides daily summaries of the day's activities on Capitol Hill and schedules for hearings and speakers (Washington Post - requires registration).

Congressional Record

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for CQ Weekly and Congressional Universe; password required for LexisNexis, Westlaw
  • Description: Full text of the official record of proceedings, debates and voting records in the U.S. Congress. Congressional Universe allows for full-text access to Congressional record from 99th Congress (1985-1986) to present; GPO Access provides access to Record from 1994 to present and allows for searching the Congressional Record Index from 1983 to present; LexisNexis contains full-text from 1985 to present (filename RECORD); Library of Congress allows access to early Congressional debates in the Annals of Congress and its successor publications - Register of Debates, Congressional Globe and Congressional Record for coverage of the years 1789 to 1875; Thomas provides access to Congressional Record from 101st Congress to present and to the Congressional Record Index from 104th Congress to present. CQ Weekly provides access to voting records in each chamber from 1983 to present.

Broadcasts of Congressional Proceedings

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: Free access to today's sessions as well as the selective Senate archive; fee-based access to all other archived broadcasts
  • Description: C-Span provides streaming video broadcasts of Senate and House sessions for current day and a selective archive of Senate hearings.

Committee Hearings

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe and Readex products
  • Description: Congressional committees hold public hearings to gather testimony on legislation referred to the committee and may hold hearings for general informational purposes as well. C-Span provides real-time audio of all Senate hearings and access to a selected archive of hearings; Congressional Universe provides indexing and full-text access to hearings testimony from 1988 to present; GPO Access allows for searching full-text of hearings documents from 1997 to present; U.S. Congressional Serial Set database provides access to historic hearings documents with ongoing file expansion.

Committee Reports

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe and Readex Serial Set
  • Description: Congressional committees file reports to the full chamber (House or Senate) on the legislation referred to them for analysis. Congressional Universe provides full-text of reports from 1989 (101st Congress) to present; GPO Access offers access to reports from 1995 (104th Congress) to present; LexisNexis provides access from 1990 to present (filename CMTRPT); Library of Congress, American Memory Project, has digitized the American State Papers which includes legislative reports for period 1789 to 1838 as well as selected documents from the U.S. Serial Set for 23rd Congress (1833-1835) to 64th Congress (1915-1917); Readex Serial Set provides access to historic reports from 1817-1896 with ongoing file expansion; Thomas provides access to committee reports from 1995 (104th Congress) to present; U.S. Congressional Serial Set database provides access to historic reports with ongoing file expansion. Today in Congress provides schedules for hearings and speakers (Washington Post - requires registration).

Committee Prints

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe; Password required for LexisNexis
  • Description: Committee prints are in-depth documents issued by Congressional committees in their designated subject area; Congressional Universe provides access to committee prints from 104th Congress to present; GPO Access provides access to selected committee prints from 1997 to present; LexisNexis (filename CMTPRN) allows access to committee prints from 104th Congress (1995) to present.

Senate and House Documents

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe; password required for LexisNexis
  • Description: The House and Senate documents consist of Presidential messages submitted to Congress, certain executive agency reports for Congress, and some background information documents prepared by legislative committees. Congressional Universe files contain House and Senate documents from 104th Congress to present; LexisNexis (filename HSDOCS) provides access to House and Senate documents, excluding treaty documents, from 104th Congress to present; Library of Congress, American Memory Project, has digitized the American State Papers which includes legislative documents for period 1789 to 1838, as well as selected documents from the U.S. Serial Set for 23rd Congress (1833-1835) to 64th Congress (1915-1917); U.S. Congressional Serial Set database provides historic legislative documents with ongoing file expansion.

Procedural Records, Calendars and Rules

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe and Readex.
  • Description: Both the House and Senate have procedural rules governing the conduct of sessions and progress of legislation. House Rules for the current session are posted by the Office of the Clerk of the House;the current Senate standing rules are included on the Senate site. LexisNexis Congressional Universe allows for simultaneous searching of Senate and House Rules. Each body also publishes a Calendar indicating those matters under consideration; the final Calendar of each session shows the status of legislation for that term. GPO provides access to the House Calendar and Senate Calendar from 104th Congress (1995-96) to present. The House Journal and the Senate Journal are the official records of chamber proceedings. GPO Access provides search capabability for House Journal from 1991 to 1998 with some gaps in coverage as well as Deschleur's Precedents. The U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1980 links to historic House and Senate Journals beginning in 1817; Library of Congress offers access to Senate Journal from 1789-1875. GPO provides access to the Senate Manual (includes text of Jefferson's Manual) from 104th, 106th, 107th Congress sessions.

Legislative History

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe and HeinOnline; password required for LexisNexis and Westlaw
  • Description: Legislative history is the process of researching background information on legislation and any associated documentation. The Law Library's Federal Legislative History research guide explains this process. Some commercial information vendors compile legislative source documents into separate files for improved access. Congressional Universe provides access to source documents and a legislative histories index from 1970 to present and LexisNexis allows access to the same file (filename CISLH) as well as to selected compiled legislative histories for major legislation; Westlaw (filename USCCAN-REP) maintains electronic files for the legislative history volumes of U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News, 1948 to present; U.S. Congressional Serial Set database provides historic legislative documents with ongoing file expansion. Compiled legislative histories: HeinOnline and Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. Inc.

Members of Congress - Information

  • Dates: Varies by source
  • Access: B.C. access for Congressional Universe;
  • Description: Biographical information, voting records and financial information. Congressional Universe provides access to biographical information, voting records and financial disclosure statements; GPO Access has full-text of Congressional Directory from 104th Congress to present

Congressional Offices and Other Information Links

Treaties