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Legislative History  

Last Updated: Jun 23, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Congressional Reports Print Page

Committee Reports

Committee reports are often considered the most important legislative history document in a bill’s history.  Committee reports can provide insights into recommendations considered for the bill, section-by-section analysis, minority and additional views, responses to criticisms of the bill, CBO & GAO analysis, and even elaborate on the scope and purpose of the bill.

As previously discussed in the Legislative Intent tab, Committee Reports can be quite useful in that they can provide an overview of the policy need for the statute (general intent) and often discuss individual provisions of a statute and how they may relate to one another when read as a whole (specific intent).  However, it is also important to keep in mind that Committee Reports are subject to attack as they may actually reflect the agenda of the committee behind the legislation rather than the entire chamber, so care should be taken when considering the persuasive power of committee reports.

Committee Report citations include the chamber, congress and report number (i.e. H. Rep. 107-5 or S. Rep. 103-113)


Conference Reports

Conference Reports are reports issued by Conference Committees – committees composed of members of both chambers of congress with specific instructions to negotiate a bill proposal that can be agreed upon by both chambers for a particular bill.  Since they are generated by joint committees, Conference Reports can be an excellent indication of the legislation’s intent.

Normally, Conference Reports are printed in the Congressional Record the day after they are submitted to the chambers for review.  The GPO also publishes select Conference Reports from time to time. 


CRS Reports

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports are reports prepared specifically for Congress to review while drafting, debating and passing legislation.  They are prepared by the Library of Congress and provide members, committees, and congressional staff objective and non-partisan research on matters of public policy.  CRS Reports are not “officially” published and/or distributed however they are available from many non-governmental sources.


Finding Reports

Congress produces a lot of documents.  Most common, of course, are the laws of the United States.  However, congress also produces reports, studies, opinions, transcripts, proclamations, etc.  All of these congressional documents are published in a massive publication known as the U. S. Congressional Serial Set.  The Serial Set is comprised of more than 15,000 volumes and includes both House and Senate documents. 

There are two important gaps in the Serial Set that researchers need to be aware of.  First, the Serial Set did not begin until the 15th Congress is 1817.  Therefore, documents produced prior to 1817 were printed in the American State Papers (1789-1838).  Second, due to delays in digitization, documents generated later than 1980 may only be available in print or via other electronic sources. 

Additionally, the Congressional Record sometimes includes the full text of committee reports submitted for publication in the Record by a legislator. The Daily Digest section also summarizes action taken within committees. USCCAN also reprints selected congressional committee reports on important acts.

Finally, it never hurts to search our catalog for print and/or electronic versions of reports – simply search by the name of the report and see if we have a direct link to just what you are looking for.

Congressional Documents In Print (1st Floor)

  • Slip Reports (Find select reports in our catalog by report name).
  • U.S Congressional Serial Set, selected volumes (#1502 – #15375), 1871 – 2010.
  • Congressional Record Index only, 1875 – 1965
  • Congressional Record, 1966 – present (including indexes)
  • U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (USCCAN), 1941 – 2009 (3rd Floor)
  • Senate Journal, 1954 – 2012
  • House Journal, 1966 - 2011

Freely Available Government Sources:

Commercial Databases:

  • WestlawNext:
    • U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News; selected reports, 1990 – present
    • Congressional Record, selected reports, 1985 – present

  • ProQuest Congressional (via “Advanced Search” and/or “Search by Number” features)
    • U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1789 – 1979
    • U.S. Congressional Serial Set Maps, 1789 – present
    • House and Senate Reports, 1817 – present
    • House and Senate Documents, 1817 – present
    • Congressional Record, selected reports, 1789 – 1997
    • Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports, 1916 – present

  • HeinOnline:
    • Congressional Globe, 1833 – 1873
    • Congressional Record, 1873 – 2010
    • Congressional Record Daily, 1980 – present
    • Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports (alphabetical listing).

  • Readex (search for Readex in our catalog)

Subject Guide

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Christina Glon

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