Research guides

Congressional Documents

Bills & Resolutions

Legislation is introduced by a member of the House or Senate as a Bill or Resolution and given a sequential number and abbreviation. For example, 112 H.R. 300 refers to the Bill from the 112th Congress, introduced by the House of Representatives, number 300. Abbreviations for types of legislation include Bills (H.R. or S.), Simple Resolutions (H. Res. or S. Res.), Joint Resolutions (H. J. Res. or S. J. Res.), or Concurrent Resolutions (H. Con. Res. or S. Con. Res).

A single bill may have many amendments, and it is often useful to compare earlier versions to the final enacted language in order to better understand the intent of a law. Most bills introduced in each Congress will either become Public Laws or "die" on the floor, in which case a similar bill may be introduced in the next Congress. For more information on acts and Public Laws, see the Federal Acts (Public Laws) guide.

The following databases and websites may provide texts of Bills and Resolutions. Some also contain tracking reports that provide information on the history and status of a bill and may include prior versions and/or citations to related documents.

Free Online Resources

Congress.gov Library of Congress
Coverage from 93rd Congress (1973) to current. Search legislation or select Browse from top menu. Under the search bar, select "More Options" for additional search filters, including Congressional Session, Legislation and Law Numbers, Legislative Actions, Sponsors/Cosponsors, and Committees. Search results can be refined by using the side panel on the search results screen. Can also conduct an Advanced Search. For additional tips, see the Search Tools page.

Congressional Bills govinfo (GPO)
Coverage from 103rd Congress (1993) to current. Can Browse by Congressional Session and Legislation Number. To search Congressional Bills, click the orange "Search" button, select "Advanced", then under "Refine by Collection" select "Congressional Bills". Search results can be further refined by using the side panel on the search results screen. For additional information and tips, see the About Congressional Bills page.

Member Databases

Legislative Reference Checklist: The Key To Legislative Histories from 1789 To 1903
Available on HeinOnline. Useful finding aid for historical bills. Full-text of bills not available through this resource. Tables list the P.L. number, Statute at Large citation, date, and bill number. Once in HeinOnline, select U.S. Federal Legislative History Library > Legislative Reference Checklist > The Key to Legislative Histories from 1789-1903.

Congressional Publications - Search By Number: Bill Number
Available on ProQuest Congressional. Full-text of bills and bill tracking reports available from 101st Congress (1989-1990) - present [HTML, not PDF]. While viewing a version of the bill, you may click the link to "Retrieve Bill Tracking Report." See the Using ProQuest Congressional page of this guide for more information.

Onsite Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law

Congressional Bills
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From Content Types tab, select Proposed & Enacted Legislation > Federal > Congressional Bills. Contains bills introduced from the current legislative session.

Congressional Full Text Bills
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Content Type tab, select Statutes and Legislation > Bill Text. Includes 101st Congress (1989-1990) to present. Contains the full text of all versions of legislation introduced in the individual Congress. Searches each Congress separately.

Historical Federal Bills
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From Content Types tab, select Proposed & Enacted Legislation > Historical Proposed Legislation (located in the Tools & Resources box on the right) > Historical Federal Bills. Begins with the 104th Congress (1995-1996).

USCS - Public Laws
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Federal tab, select USCS - Public Laws. Contains the full text of the enrolled version of all enacted Public Laws (Acts and Joint Resolutions) from September 9, 1988 - present. Searches all Public Laws, 1988 - present, at once.

U.S. House & Senate Bills
Available on the library's Bloomberg Law computers. From All Legal Content, select U.S. Legislative > U.S. Congress > U.S. House & Senate Bills. Contains bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate from 1993 to current.

Identifying the Bill Number

If you are conducting a legislative history on bills related to a statute, you will first have to find some information regarding each bill. Bill numbers can often be found through the United States Code and Statutes at Large. See the United States Code guide for how to find these resources through Jenkins.

        1. Locate the specific statute section in the U.S. Code, the U.S.C.S. (Lexis), or U.S.C.A. (West).
        2. If the statute has been amended, determine which version is needed. It is not unusual for a statute to have several amendments. The notes and annotations are helpful in determining which version is needed.
        3. Following the text of the statute, find the date of enactment and the Statutes at Large citation to each act. These notes may also include the Public Law (or chapter) number.
        4. The Statutes at Large will provide the following information if the law was enacted after 1903:
                • P.L.# = the Public Law number indicates the Congressional session and act numbers. For instance, P.L. 109-100 is the 100th act passed by the 109th Congress.
                • Date = date the act was approved by Congress.
                • H.B. or S.B. = the House or Senate Bill number.

      Note the P.L. number, Statutes at Large citation, bill number, and year. This information is useful when researching the legislative history.

    Research Tip

    You may also find more recent bill numbers in the U.S. Code, Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.) from 1941 - present, or through the slip laws on govinfo.gov (see the United States Code and Federal Acts (Public Laws) guides). Bill numbers for earlier laws can be found in the Legislative Reference Checklist on HeinOnline or through the indexes and tables of the Congressional Record (see the Debates & Votes page of this guide).