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Law (United States)

The Legislative Process

Wondering how laws are made? These sites provide accessible overviews.

The Legislative Process - House of Representatives (house.gov)

How Laws Are Made - Ben's Guide to U.S. Government

Tracking Tools

Bills (Proposed Legislation)

Congressional bills "are legislative proposals from the House of Representatives and Senate within the United States Congress" (GPO).

Congressional Bills - Organized by session. From the GPO Federal Digital System

Thomas - The Library of Congress portal for legislative information. Thomas has the text of bills and public laws going back to 93rd (1973); House and Senate roll call votes back to 101st congress (1989); Congressional Record back to 101st (1989).

Public & Private Laws

Public laws (Pub.L.) affect society as a whole, and private laws (Pvt.L.) apply to an individual, family, small group, or corporate entity. Individually, they are called 'slip laws.' Slip laws are collected and published by session as the Statutes at Large (Stat.), and are finally codified in the U.S. Code (U.S.C.). 

Search laws in LexisNexis.

Public & Private Laws - Organized by session. Via the GPO's Federal Digital System (FDSys)

The United States Code is the codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States. It is divided by broad subjects into 51 titles and published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Code - Search the current United States Code. You can also download specific sections of the code in the "Downloads" area of the site.

Annotated U.S. Code in LexisNexis.

U.S. Code (1994-Present) - View older editions of the code via the FDSys

The Statutes at Large is the permanent collection of all laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress.

Search statutes in LexisNexis.

U.S. Statutes at Large - From 1951-2010. Via the FDSys.

 

Help finding public laws & code sections

Popular Names of Acts in the U.S. Code (Cornell University Law School) - Start here if you know an act's popular name but not its Public Law number or Code section.

Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) annual edition is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation.

You can search the CFR in Lexis Nexis.

eCFR - This electronic, text version of the CFR is also searchable.

Code of Federal Regulations (1996-Present) - View the CFR by year.

The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. The Federal Register includes 4 types of entries:

  • Presidential Documents, including Executive orders and proclamations.
  • Rules and Regulations, including policy statements and interpretations of rules.
  • Proposed Rules, including petitions for rulemaking and other advance proposals.
  • Notices, including scheduled hearings and meetings open to the public, grant applications, administrative orders, and other announcements of government actions.

federalregister.gov - Federal Register documents are organized and displayed in an easy to read format with extensive navigation aids and links to related material, such as the Code of Federal Regulations and the United States Code. Also includes broad topical sections in six areas of interest, suggested searches for trending items, and agency “home pages” that list every Federal Register document published by an agency and its sub-agencies.

Regulations - When Congressinal bills become laws, Federal agencies put those laws into action through regulations.

regulations.gov - The types of regulations that can be found on this site include: Notices from the Federal Register; Proposed Rules; Final Rules. Documents such as public comments and supporting materials are often associated with these regulations.