Tracing Legislative Histories
Legislative History - A compilation of Congressional and other related documents generated in the process of passing a Public Law.
Documents Included in a Legislative History
The Pentagon Library Law Branch Staff compiles histories of those Public Laws, which have a bearing on the mission of the Department of Defense. There is no rigid formula for compiling a legislative history. A compiler is free to include any documentation, which the potential user may find helpful. The Pentagon Library usually includes the first seven items of those listed below.
- The Public Law
- Digests of the bill or bills from the CRS Digest of Public General Bills and Resolutions.
- Committee reports, including the Conference if reported.
- Text of the various versions of the bills (original and amended).
- House and Senate debates from the Congressional Record.
- Committee hearings, prints and documents.
- Presidential signing statement.
- Executive Department documents.
- Related materials (e.g. newspaper and periodical articles).
Sources of Legislative Histories
- United States Code Congressional and Administrative News
- Annual Legislative History Volume of the Congressional Information Service and the CIS Index (CD-ROM)
- Calendars of the US House of Representatives
- Statutes at Large & Slip Laws
- Congressional Record Index - "History of Bills and Resolutions"
- CQ On Congress.com (on-line database)
- LEXIS/NEXIS (on-line database)
- WESTLAW - USCCAN (on-line database)
- Congressional Index - Commerce Clearing House (77th - 104th Congress)
- Congressional Research Service - Digest of Public General Bills and Resolutions (79th - 101st Congress)
- Some congressional committees occasionally issue legislative histories of major laws within their jurisdictions (e.g. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, PL 95-454, House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, Committee Print No. 96-7