Congressional Record in the United States
The Congressional Record publishes Congressional debates, many bills and joint resolutions, presidential messages and treaties. The Record also published notices saying that each bill has been introduced and that simple resolutions and concurrent resolutions have been passed. The Record began publishing in 1873.
The Congressional Record is available online from many sources including:
- FDsys (free) – the daily edition is posted back to 1994, and the bound edition is available back to December 1998;
- Congress.gov has the Record free back to the 104th Congress (1995-60);
- Thomas has the Record free back to the 101st Congress (1989-90);
- Lexis (LEGIS;RECORD) and Westlaw (CR) have the Record back to January 3, 1985;
- Hein Online – the U.S. Congressional Documents Collection includes the bound Congressional Record back to inception) and the daily from 1980 to the present (subscription only);
- ProQuest Congressional has the daily Record from volume 139 (99th Congress / 1985-1986) to present; the ProQuest Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection covering 1873-1997 is sold as an add-on subscription (available through many academic and membership law library websites, including the New York Law Institute); and
- Bloomberg Law has the Record from 1933 to the present (subscription only).
Some large law libraries have the Record in paper or microfilm going way back. To get copies, though, you have to have a cite. To get citations, see the following sections on Citations and Pagination.
Pagination: The Congressional Record has TWO pagination systems — one for the daily edition and one for the bound. Although the content is generally the same, Congressmen can revise their remarks for the bound version. There is no cross-reference table between the pagination systems – if you don’t have the page for the edition available to you, you have to figure it out.
If you subscribe, HeinOnline has a “Congressional Record Daily to Bound Locator.” Otherwise, you can try looking up the agency/title/subject/date in the Congressional Record Index or do key word searches in a database. Alternatively, if you have the date the item was published, you can go the hard copy version for that date and turn pages. If you don’t have the date, you may be able to look it up in the CCHCongressional Index.
Congressional Record Index: To find something in the Congressional Record, most people search one of the electronic databases, but you can also look in theCongressional Record Index to get a citation. The Congressional Record Index is published annually in hard copy. It’s posted free on FDsys back to 1983. You can also search it on Lexis, either from 1970 to the present (LEGIS;CISINX) or from 1789 to 1980 (LEGIS;CISHST), which includes predecessor publications.
Locating Debates: The “Legislative Histories” section of the CIS/Index gives you cites to the debates on bills that became Public Laws. The CIS/Index is available in many large law libraries. The CIS/Index is also available on Lexis (LEGIS;CISINX) and Proquest Congressional.
More Information: For more information about the Congressional Register and itspredecessors — the Annals of Congress, the Register of Debates in Congress and theCongressional Globe — see An Overview of the Congressional Record and its Predecessor Publications by Richard J. McKinney.
Federal Legislative History
Government Publishing Office (GPO)
Congressional Record in the Context of Law Research
The Thurgood Marshall School of Law Library defined briefly Congressional Record as: The published record of the daily proceedings in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.Legal research resources, including Congressional Record, help to identify the law that governs an activity and to find materials that explain that law.
Congressional Record (in Politics)
Related to political science, the following is a definition of Congressional Record in the U.S. practice of politics: The official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. At the back of each daily issue is the “Daily Digest,” which summarizes the day’s floor and committee activities.
The Congressional Record is available online from 1994.
Congressional Record in the U.S. Code: Title 44, Chapter 9
The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating congressional record are compiled in the United States Code under Title 44, Chapter 9. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Public Documents (including congressional record) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Congress of the US Code, including congressional record) by chapter and subchapter.