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Federal Legislative History  

Last Updated: May 20, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Legislative History is the official documentary record of the passage of a proposed statute - often involving multiple bills or resolutions - through the successive stages of the legislative process. At the federal level of government this process formally commences with the introduction of a measure in Congress by a Senator or Representative and unless terminating short of enactment, the most common outcome, concludes with a Presidential signing into law or veto. For major initiatives, however, the documentary record frequently begins before the introduction of a bill, perhaps with a background Congressional investigative study or committee hearing from a previous Congress or a draft of proposed legislation by the President.



How Our Laws Are Made - This brochure is intended to provide a basic outline of the numerous steps of our federal lawmaking process from the source of an idea for a legislative proposal through its publication as a statute. The legislative process is a matter about which every person should be well informed in order to understand and appreciate the work of Congress.

LLSDC Sourcebook

Years of the 1st through 116th Congresses

What is in the United States Serial Set?



This guide was originally authored by Terry Swanlund, former Harvard Law School Library Reference Librarian.


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