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Legislative History Research: A Guide

Basic research tools for tracking the progress of bills, hearings, and other legislative steps in the United States federal government.

House & Senate Conference Committee Reports

After mark-up, the committee receives a subcommittee report, and the full committee votes on its recommendation to the House or Senate. If committee members approve and report the bill out of the committee, a "committee report " is issued.  Committee reports are widely used to determine the bill’s intent and meaning. A  legislative history of the bill is often included in the committee report, as is a section-by-section analysis of the bill and sometimes Committee members who oppose a bill write a dissenting opinion in the report. Committee reports are considered to be the most important documents of legislative history research. 

If the House and Senate publish different versions of the bill, a Conference Committee with members from both the House and Senate is formed to work out the differences. Once this is accomplished, a conference report is produced by the Committee. Conference reports are also considered to be extremely important documents for legislative history research!

Committee Prints & Other Congressional Research Reports

Committee prints are reports issued by congressional committees on topics related to proposed legislation. Committee prints will include draft reports and bills, statistical information, investigative reports, historical reports, situational studies, confidential staff reports, hearings, or legislative analyses. Prints are usually prepared by committee staff, Congressional Research Service experts, or outside consultants.

NOTE! Although considered reports, these should not be confused with official House or Senate reports.

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