Skip to main content

Federal Legislative History


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.



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