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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.

Major Sources

When the President of the United States sends an executive communication approving, vetoing or proposing legislation to Congress, they will appear in the following resources:

  • Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents - Legislative related signing statements, veto messages and other executive communications made to Congress. Has been replaced by the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents as of January 29, 2009.
  • Congressional Record - Includes most legislative communications (except veto messages and statements regarding proposed legislation).

Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents

The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents is the official publication of statements regarding bill signings and vetoes. Other materials include: proclamations, executive orders, speeches, press conferences, communications to Congress and Federal agencies, appointments, nominations, reorganization plans, resignations, retirements, acts approved by the President, nominations submitted to the Senate, White House, announcements, and press releases. Has been replaced by the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents as of January 29, 2009.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States

The Public Papers of the Presidents is published  twice a year, and each volume covers approximately a 6-month period.  Volumes cover the administrations of Presidents Hoover, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. Papers do not include those of President Franklin Roosevelt which were published privately before the commencement of the official Public Papers series.

Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. Published daily when Congress is in session, it includes most legislative communications (except veto messages and statements regarding proposed legislation). At the back of each daily issue is the "Daily Digest," which summarizes the day's floor and committee activities. 

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