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Michigan Documents Center

United States Congress

A Guide for Class Assignments Beginning 1993

Frames Index | Non-Frames Edition

Annals of Congress | Background Information | Bills | Choosing Topic | Committee Hearings/Reports
Committee Markups/Votes | Congressional Globe | Congressional Record | CRS Reports | Debates
Documents | Floor Calendars | Floor Votes | Hearings Laws | Presidential Statements
Register of Debates | Regulations | Rules | Serial Set | Years/Congress Conversion

Citations | Committee Information | Lobby Group Influence
Member Information | Public Opinion

Legislative History Chart


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Directory Search

Last updated on March 6, 2007

Arrows indicate the best sources for University of Michigan affiliates conducting their first legislative history for the years beginning 1993. UMich Only web links are available from campus ethernet connections and via modem using 489-2222.

Legislative Process

    • CRS Reports on the Legislative Process [Web]
      • Reports from the Congressional Research Service on House and Senate Rules
      • Analytical reports on the introduction of bills, committee and floor action, the budget process, and Presidential actions
      • Includes historical statistics on Presidential vetoes

    • Enactment of a Law [Web]
      • Senate description of the legislative process
      • Includes information unique to the Senate, including ratification of treaties and executive (closed) meetings

    • How a Bill Becomes a Law (Dirksen Center)
      • Compact but entertaining tool for undertstanding the federal legislative process
      • Each unit from introduction to bill signing includes legislative definitions, strategies, statistics and quirks, and the legislative junkie (links to information sources)

    • How Our Laws Are Made [Web]
      • Extensive House of Representatives guide to the legislative process with definitions and explanations of each step
      • Summary version

    • Rules of Congress

    • Legislative Sourcebook (Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C.)
      • Treasures include establishing persistent links to THOMAS and GPO legislative documents and GAO reports
      • Table lists Congresses, 1789-1999, plus serial set volumes and Presidential Executive Orders
      • Excellent lists of House and Senate hearings on the web

    • Years of Congress Conversion Table (Univ. of North Texas)
      • List each Congress and session, beginning with the first in 1789
      • Provides the opening and closing date
      • Especially handy for tracking the text of bills, hearings, and committee reports when only the Congress is cited

Choosing a Topic

    • Faculty Recommendations [Class]

    • Congressional Quarterly System
      • Description
        • Background information on major legislation
        • Provides bill numbers and summarizes differences between multiple bills on a subject
        • Key players and behind-the-scenes information
        • All roll call votes
      • Congressional Quarterly Almanac [Library]
        • Browse annual table of contents or index
        • Usually published six months after end of previous year
        • Doc.Cen. JK 1 .C756--Ref.
      • CQ Weekly Report (UMich Only)
        • Full text of CQ since 1983
        • Initial page boots up to current issue
        • Separate search engines for articles and roll call votes can be limited by year
        • Paper copy in Documents Center as JK 1.C12--Ref. with older issues in Graduate Library
        • Web subscription includes CQ Researcher which provides briefing reports on public policy issues

    • Bill Indexes

      • Congressional Universe (UMich Only) [Web]
        • "Hot Bills" provides subject approach to bills receiving media attention
      • THOMAS [Web]
        • Identifies "hot bills" of the current Congress by subject, keyword in title, and those passed into law

    • Historical Sources [Library]

      • Congress and the Nation, 1945+ (Doc.Cen. JK 1001 .C75 - Ref)
      • Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1945+ (Doc.Cen. JK 1 .C756 - Ref)

Background Information

Congressional Research Service | Historical Sources
Periodicals | Political Parties | Web News

Printed Periodicals

Congressional Research Service Reports

    • This agency of the Library of Congress provides detailed background information for use by Congressional committees
      • Many of the reports are issued as committee prints
        • Can be identified through Congressional Universe (UMich Only)
        • All publications are located in the Documents Center either in paper copy, microfiche, or both
      • The majority of reports are issued as Major Studies and Issue Briefs, which are unpublished

    • Major Studies and Issue Briefs
      • These are unpublished reports
      • Cumulative Search Engine (Information to Act)
        • Search engine to Congressional Research Reports on the web using the Google search engine
      • A cumulative index, 1916-89, and updates beginning 1993 are located in the Documents Center as Z 733 .U56 A208 - Ref.
      • Microfilm of the reports, 1975 to 1995, and current indexes are located in the Serials Room as FILM X1261
      • CRS Reports beginning 1996 located on microfiche in the Documents Center as MICRO-F DoX34 (located in cabinets after the CIS current hearings)
    • CRS Reports via Pennyhill Press
      • Subject arrangement of reports beginning 1994
      • Provides abstract and order information
    • Congressional Research Service WWW Accessible Reports
      • List of individual titles or groups of titles on the environment, foreign relations, the military, space and science, and the U.S. Government
    • Selected CRS Reports on Congress and Its Procedures (Law Librarians Society of DC)
      • Unique digital versions of CRS reports on Congressional procedure
      • Extensive list of other CRS reports on the internet

CRS Reports by Subject

Political Party Agendas

Historical Sources

Bill Indexes/Texts/Status

Historical | Web

Web Sources

Committee Hearings/Prints/Reports

Description | Documents | Hearings
Historical Sources | Reports and Documents

    • Types of Publications

      • Hearings are testimony before committees
      • Committee prints are research reports with background information
      • Reports are primarily recommendations by committees on the passage of a bill
      • Documents are communications from the Executive Branch
      • Calendars - see Committee Information

    • U.S. Congressional Bibliographies (NCSU)
      • Lists Senate hearings, committee prints, and publications since 1983 (98th Congress) by committee, by Senate number, and by title
        • Includes unpublished hearings and statistics on the number of hearings held/published
        • May be searched by keyword, committee, and Senate serial number
      • Lists House hearings since 1985 (99th Congress) as extracted from the Congressional Record's Daily Digest, arranged by date
      • Printed hearings for both the Senate and House are also indexed in Congressional Universe (UMich Only)

Committee Hearings

    • Congressional Universe (UMich Only) [Web]
      • Indexes committee publications: hearings (1970+), prints (1993+), and reports (1989+)
      • Published Hearings accessed through Congressional Publications
        • Hearings indexed by subject, keyword, committee, date, and person testifying
        • Advanced Search Strategies option under keyword searching permits numerous proximity indicators
          • w/p (words within paragraph); w/n (words within a number; w/s (words within sentence)
          • Example: china w/10 (world trade organization or most favored nation)
          • Additional protocols at bottom of keyword searching page
        • Record provides summary of testimony, Superintendent of Documents Number for the Documents Center's paper copy, microfiche number for the Documents Center's microfiche, and a link to selected full text testimony since 1988
      • Testimony provides the full text of selected testimony and prepared witness statements
        • Indexed by committee, person testifying, date, and keyword
        • More current than the Published Hearings
        • Published Hearings have much more material
      • See Congressional Universe Research Guide or Congressional Universe Quick Guide for further details

    • Congressional Hearings via GPO Access
      • Selected hearings beginning 1995 also available free to the public via the Government Printing Office
      • Arranged by committee; no index
      • Text and pdf formats

    • Congressional Hearings on the Web

    • Internet Search Engines
      • Political Information
        • Search for hearings mounted by government web sites as well as those of individuals and interest groups
        • Sample search: medicare and +testimony and +hearing
      • Google's Uncle Sam
        • Indexes text of government web sites
        • Sample search: medicare and testimony and hearing
        • You will retrieve at least some false drops, including the legislative status on THOMAS and hearings announcements

    • Historic Digitized Hearings

Reports and Documents

    • Reports

      • Congressional Universe (UMich Only)
        • Carries the full text of committee reports, 1989+
        • Indexes the paper/microfiche copy of reports since 1970
        • Both searches located under Congressional Publications

      • Thomas
        • Full text of committee reports since 1995
        • Searchable by keyword, bill number, report number, and committee
        • Reports segmented into easily viewable segments
        • Links to the full text of the legislation in question and legislative status

    • Documents

    • Paper and microfiche copies [Library]
      • Available back to 1817 in Documents Center

Historical Sources

    • Indexes
      • Congressional Universe, 1789+
        • Indexes hearings, committee prints, reports, and documents
        • All publications available on microfiche in Documents Center
      • MIRLYN
        • Indexes hearings by keyword, 1789 to within five years of present
        • Provides microfiche number for the Documents Center

    • Full Text
      • Congressional Serial Set, 1789-1969 (UMich Only)
        • Historic Full Text section of LEXIS-NEXIS Congressional has the full text of over 333,000 documents and 50,000 maps
        • Includes all legislative reports on bills, some hearings, national commission reports, and most Executive Branch documents issued during the 19th Century
        • Source for social, military, economic, and technology history (immigration, Civil War, Treasury annual reports, lighthouses) as well as geographic explorations
        • Indexed by subject, keyword, author, geography, bill number, law number, witness name, serial number, and SUDOCS number

      • Congressional Universe (UMich Only)

      • Hearings and Committee Prints (Printed)
        • Through 1972, check Documents Center catalog by committee and title for Library of Congress call number; some call numbers may be in Buhr
        • For 1973-80, check Documents Center catalog for SUDOCS call number; all should be in Buhr
        • For 1981-88, check MIRLYN under call number to see if available in Buhr or microfiche should be used
        • 1989+ should be in Documents Center arranged by SUDOCS number

      • Reports and Documents (Printed)
        • Last three years in Documents Center
        • Older issues in Serial Set; 1-7914 in Buhr; 7915+ in stacks on 6 South/West End
        • Use CIS Serial Set Index, 1789-1969 (Doc.Cen. Z 1223 .Z7 C764-Ref.) and Numerical Lists, 1970+ (Doc. Cen. Z 1223 .A5-Ref) to identify bound volume numbers
        • Description of the Serial Set and its history
        • American State Papers, 1789-1817 (J 33) has the earliest reports
        • Table of Congressional Volumes and Presidential Issuances: 1789-1999 (LLSDC - pdf)
          • Lists Congress, year, and first Serial Set volume number
          • The Serial Set is the bound version of House and Senate Reports and Documents

      • Legislative Archives (NARA)
        • Guide to unpublished legislative and Congressional committee documents beginning 1789
        • Instructions for obtaining the material from the National Archives

Committee Markups and Votes

    • Definitions
      • Markups are committee meetings held after the hearings to make changes in a bill and make recommendations to the floor about its passage
      • Votes are taken among committee members to determine whether the bill should be referred to the floor for consideration
      • Reports are issued if the committee determines to recommend the bill
      • Markup sessions are covered primarily by the press rather than official government reporters

    • Academic Universe
      • Provides transcripts and summaries of markups
      • Found under News/Transcripts
      • The specific file is FDCH Political Transcripts but it is better to search all transcripts; include the word markup as a keyword
      • Search will include some false drops; look for term MARKS UP in search results

    • National Journal Markup Reports (UMich Only)
      • Full text of committee discussions and votes since 1999
      • Searchable by committee and subcommittee, keyword, bill number and date

    • Print sources: [Library]
      • The text of markups often appears in the printed hearings of the House Agriculture and Foreign Affairs/International Relations committees
      • Votes occasionally appear in the House and Senate Reports submitted on bills

Floor Calendars

Floor Debates in Congressional Record

Historical | Web Sources

Web Sources

    • Congressional Universe (UMich Only)
      • Indexes the floor debates in the Congressional Record since 1985 by keyword, speaker, and year but difficult to search by exact date
      • Provides the full text
      • Access under Publications
      • To search for the speech of a person
        • In the subject box, type the name of the person within 20 words of the subject
        • Repeat the person's name in the speaker box
        • EXAMPLE: hatch w/20 children w/20 health insurance (subject) and hatch (speaker)

    • THOMAS [Web]
      • Indexes Congressional Record via keyword, exact date, and speaker since 1993
      • Lack of proximity identifiers for keyword searching can be adjusted through using the "Best Sections" feature
      • Browse function especially useful for identifying actions during the previous week
      • Best and most current public access source for full text

Historical Sources

    • Century of American Lawmaking (Library of Congress)
      • TIFF images of the
        • Journals of the Continental Congress (1774-93)
        • Annals of Congress (1789-1824)
        • Register of Debates (1824-1837)
        • Congressional Globe (1833-1873)
        • House and Senate Journals (1789-1873)
        • Senate Executive Journal (1789-1873)
        • Journal of William Maclay (1789-91)
      • Individual issues browsable; search engine for entire collection rather than individual titles

    • Congressional Record, 1873+
      • Paper copy in Graduate Library stacks (J 11.R) with 1985+ issues in Documents Center
      • Congressional Universe (UMich Only) carries the full text beginning 1985
      • GPO Access provides a keyword index since 1983 but not the full text

    • Congressional Globe, 1833-73
      • Printed volumes in Buhr as J11.G5
      • Microfilm set in Serials/Microforms as FILM X2023

    • Documentary History of the First Federal Congress (Univ. of So. Carolina)
      • 1789 Congressional debates on the formation of the Cabinet
      • Text of bills
      • Notes from Members of the first congress

    • Register of Debates, 1824-1837 (J11.D)

    • Annals of Congress, 1789-1824 (J11.A)

Floor Votes

Historical | Printed Sources | Web

Printed Sources

Web Sources

    • Congress Votes Database (Washington Post)
      • Complete list of floor roll call votes in the House and Senate since the 102nd Congress, 1991
      • Sections for each Congress list House and Senate votes and votes by bill number
      • Links from the main listing for each Congress provide analyses of individual roll call outcomes by party, state, region, gender, boomer status and astrological sign
      • Overall for each Congress there are analyses of those votes with the widest and narrowest margins, late night votes, and members who missed the most votes
      • There is also a full list of members for each Congress with brief biographies, a list of their individual roll call votes and how they compared with GOP and Democratic opinion
      • Spanning all Congresses is an analysis of roll call votes for building designations, impeachments, nominations, speaker elections, treaties, and vice-presidential tiebreakers

    • Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report (UMich Only)
      • Indexes floor votes since 1995 by keyword, bill number, date, and chamber
      • Provides summary of the bill and votes by individual members

    • Congressional Universe (UMich Only)
      • Floor votes are included in two places under the Members section
      • Votes
        • Searchable by bill number and Congress
        • Provides data on all members
        • Sort by vote type (yea/nay, party, member name, or state and district
      • Key Votes is arranged by Member of Congress

    • House of Representatives Roll Call Votes
      • Votes tracked by Clerk of the House beginning 1997
      • Arranged by year with most current vote first
      • Table provides vote number, bill number, brief description, and result of vote
      • Click on vote number for a summary of yeas and nays by party and for votes of individual members

    • Project Vote Smart [Web]
      • Roll call votes on selected issues beginning with 1989
      • Choose by issue, year and chamber
      • Various sorting options

    • Senate
      • Senate Floor Votes
        • List of floor votes in reverse chronological order beginning with the 99th Congress
        • List links to a separate record providing the votes of individual senators on an issue

    • Congressional Record

      • Congressional Universe (UMich Only) [Web]
        • Indexes Congressional Record via keyword and bill number since 1985
        • Floor votes given in the text

      • THOMAS [Web]
        • Indexes Congressional Record via keyword and bill number since 1993
        • Floor votes given in the text

Historical Sources

Presidential Statements and Vetoes

    • Vetoes
      • Bill Vetoes
        • Available via GPO Access beginning 1995
          • Check off the boxes for "House Documents" and use "veto" as a keyword search
        • Also available on THOMAS under Bill Summary and Status, 1973+
          • Arranged by Congress
          • Vetoes searchable as a stage in the legislative process or in a separate list
      • Line Item Vetoes
        • These are officially entitled Presidential Cancellations
        • Available in PDF format from the Clerk of the House

    • Statements of Administration Policy on Appropriations and Non-Appropriations Bills
      • Brief statements of the President's position on selected bills beginning 2001
      • Arranged by Congress and bill number

    • Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1993+
      • Full text of Presidential executive orders, speeches, press conferences, names of nominees
      • Phrases should be in parentheses and Boolean operators capitalized (e.g. "affirmative action" AND "college admissions")
      • Table of contents search (contents AND "july 28, 1997)

    • White House Electronic Publications [Web]
      • Press releases, speeches and documents beginning January 1993 and updated daily
      • Browse by date or broad subject category
      • There is no keyword searching but publications can be identified using a forms interface specifying date, broad subject, type of publication, and principal speaker
      • Searching by keyword and date

    • Historical Sources
      • Presidential Vetoes, 1789-1988 (J 81 .C35)
      • Public Papers of the President, 1929-32, 1945+ (J 80 .A25)
      • Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1965+ (J 80 .A1 W38 with current in Doc.Cen.-Ref)
      • Public Papers of the President (UMich Only)
        • Full text of Presidential papers from George Washington to present
        • Sources include Richardson's Messages and Papers of the President and Public Papers of the Presidents as well as a separate collection for Franklin Delano Roosevelt


Historic Laws | Laws in Force | New Laws

Existing Laws in Force

    • United States Code (via Congressional Universe - UMich Only) [Web]
      • Search existing laws in force by keyword or U.S. Code citation
      • Updated within days of the passage of a new law
      • Provides U.S. Code text as well as references to bill and public law text
      • Advanced Search Strategies option under keyword searching permits numerous proximity indicators
        • w/p (words within paragraph); w/n (words within a number; w/s (words within sentence)
        • Example: foreign student* w/s income tax*
        • Additional protocols at bottom of keyword searching page

    • United States Code (via Cornell Law School) [Web]
      • Text of all laws in force as of January 1998
      • Searchable by popular title of law, title and section of the U.S. Code, or keyword
      • Currently the best interface

    • United States Code (via House Internet Law Library) [Web]
      • Subject approach to all laws in force
      • Several keyword search options as well as specific title and section
      • For Boolean searching, use "adj" between words to indicate a phrase (e.g. medicare and home adj health adj services)
      • Summaries of selected subsequent laws
      • Text of selected historic statutes
      • Paper copy of U.S. Code in Doc.Cen. KF 62 .A2

    New Laws

    • THOMAS
      • Text of Public Laws since 1973+ accessible by law number
      • Can use Bill Summary and Status to identify law number by subject, sponsor, and stage of legislative process

    • Public Laws, 1789+ (via Congressional Universe - UMich Only)
      • For 1988+
        • Search for full text of laws by keyword, bill number, Public Law Number, and Statutes-at-Large number
        • Provides full text and bill tracking report
      • For 1789 to Within Last Two Years
        • Search Statutes at Large by title, keyword, Statutes at Large Citation, law number, chapter and resolution number
        • Provides text of law in Adobe Acrobat format

    • Public Laws, 104th Congress, 1995+ via GPO Access [Web]

    • U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News [Library]
      • Monthly pamphlet with the full text of laws; cumulates annually
      • Doc.Cen. KF 48.A32 U58--Ref.

    Historical Sources

    • Public Laws, 1973+ are available via law number through THOMAS

    • Statutes at Large (UMich Only)
      • Full text of public laws since 1789 to within last two years
      • Searchable by title and date or Statutes citation
      • Also includes Indian treaties, 1778-1874, and treaties with foreign countries, 1776-1949
      • Found in the Laws section of the web site
      • Paper located in Documents Center as K .U565 with last ten years in Reference section
    • United States Statutes at Large, 1789-1823
      • Full text of public laws passed by Congress, 1st-17th Congresses, and private laws, lst-28th Congress (as of Aug. 1999)
      • Browsable only
      • List of public laws begins in Volume 1, p. xvii; use page number given for a law in the page-turner box at the bottom of the screen
      • List of private laws in Volume 4
      • Library of Congress project to be expanded at a later date


Historic Regulations | New Regulations | Regulations in Force

Code of Federal Regulations

    • Congressional Universe (UMich Only)
      • Indexes current Executive Branch and independent agency regulations in force by keyword, agency, and statutory authority
      • Updated every two weeks
      • Advanced Search Strategies option under keyword searching permits numerous proximity indicators
        • w/p (words within paragraph); w/n (words within a number; w/s (words within sentence)
        • Example: endangered species w/10 national park*
        • Additional protocols at bottom of keyword searching page
      • See Congressional Universe Research Guide or Congressional Universe Quick Guide for further details

    • Code of Federal Regulations (Cornell)
      • Text is browsable by title and searchable by subject or title/section number

    • Code of Federal Regulations (UC-San Diego) or Code of Federal Regulations (National Archives)
      • Search CFR by keyword or a combination of title, part, and page
      • Three-quarters complete as of September 1997 with additional titles expected throughout the year
      • Corresponding paper copy in Documents Center as JK 416.A5-Ref

Federal Register

Historical Regulations

Citation Guides [Web and Library]

    • Citing government documents
    • Citing electronic information

Political Process

    • Legislation is a highly political process, despite this logical outline
    • Public Policy Matrix is a chart summarizing the legislative process and sources for political information about the process

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