Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Government Information - 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

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).

Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is the "official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. At the back of each daily issue is the "Daily Digest," which summarizes the day's floor and committee activities and serves as a table of contents for each issue. The House and Senate sections contain proceedings for the separate chambers of Congress. Finally, the Extension of Remarks includes tributes, statements, and other information that supplements statements made on the Congressional floor." 

Congressional Record on Congress.gov - 1995-Present

Congressional Record on Thomas.gov - 1989-Present

Congressional Hearings & Reports

"A hearing is a meeting or session of a Senate, House, joint, or special committee of Congress, usually open to the public, to obtain information and opinions on proposed legislation, conduct an investigation, or evaluate/oversee the activities of a government department or the implementation of a Federal law. In addition, hearings may also be purely exploratory in nature, providing testimony and data about topics of current interest. Most congressional hearings are published two months to two years after they are held" (GPO).

Congressional Hearings - Coverage of many (but not all) hearings, 1985-88, 1991-2014, via GPO FDSys

Committee Reports - Coverage of reports from Congressional committees, 1995-present, via Thomas.gov

Congressional Research Service

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) "works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation." The CRS does not make its reports publicly accessible, but some members of Congress and nonprofit organizations are making these resources available online.

Congressional Research Service Reports - Made available by the University of North Texas Digital Library

OpenCRS - Provides access to CRS Reports that are already in the public domain

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.). 

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.

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.

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.

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

eCFR - The electronic, text version of the CFR is searchable!

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 Congressional 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.