The nearly 100 legislative history sites linked above are selected from Internet sites that are freely available to the public and were often prepared as U.S. Congressional committee prints and later digitized, such as most of those from Hathi Trust Digital Library. Other histories selected were prepared by certain Federal libraries or non-profit organizations. Special thanks goes to the libraries at the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Federal Reserve Board for making available a number of legislative histories from their collections. For recent decades additional links are also provided to the bill histories on Congress.gov established and maintained by the Library of Congress.
Federal legislative histories are generally considered compilations of related documents to a specific U.S. public law that precede the law's enactment and that is how the term is used here. The chronology of the bill's (or bills') development is normally set out as well, including related legislation in previous Congresses. Legislative histories assist Federal agencies and the courts to interpret the Congressional intent of various Federal laws or a law's provisions. The related listings to these notes are to individual laws in both alphabetical and public law number order with non-commercial histories having more detailed identifiers rather than just the popular name and public law number. The term "legislative history" is also, at times, given to related Congressional documents of both the original act and its subsequent amendments or to special collections of related documents on a particular topic like tax law or environmental law. These special collections are listed at the conclusion of the above lists. Finally, the term "legislative history" is sometimes given to mere descriptions of the historical development and perhaps the content of the original law and its amendments. However, the related lists to these notes only include histories with compiled Congressional documents related to a law and do not include those that only describe the history of a law.
Legislative history construction is a craft and relevant documents may not always be included, and sometimes, of course, not all of the documents to a history are available. Usually a legislative history includes the related public law, standing committee and conference reports, debates/discussion from the Congressional Record, various proposed bills in different versions, committee hearings, and perhaps a presidential signing statement, but more documents from different agencies and earlier congresses could be included as well. See Practitioner's Guide.
Some 29 legislative histories from the U.S. Department of Justice Library (DOJ) have been placed on a public Internet site by the Department. These histories have largely been added without additional links to U.S.C., the C.F.R., and the Library of Congress (LoC).
Some 13 legislative histories from U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) Library have been linked above. The pin number or word to the catalog is what you make it, The list suggests the word "guest." The Pop-up blocker function on your browser should also be turned off.
Six selected legislative histories prepared by the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) Law Library have been downloaded to, or modified and represented on an LLSDC site.
Hathi Trust Digital Library is a partnership of major research libraries and institutions. It has an immense collection of digitized books including many Congressional committee prints setting out the legislative histories of selected U.S. public laws. Some 25 histories from the Hathi Trust commection, a few with multiple volumes, are linked here.
Library of Congress (LoC) bill histories, or list of actions, and bill summaries are prepared by its Congressional Research Service and made available from 1973 (93rd Congress) to the present through Congress.gov, the Library's legislative database. Senate bill numbers begin with an "S." and House of Representatives bill numbers begin with an "H.R." From 1989 (101st Congress) to the present the text of bills and resolutions are available on Congress.gov and linked to each of its bill status/summary reports. From 1995 (104th Congress) forward committee reports are linked to the those reports and from 1999 (106th Congress) forward Congressional Record pages are also linked to the list of actions on each bill report. Currently, congressional hearings and Presidential signing statements are about the only legislative history documents not linked to Congress.gov bill reports. Congress.gov replaced THOMAS in 2016, but links to bill report sites on THOMAS have been redirected to Congress.gov bill report sites.
Public law numbers that uniquely identify a U.S. law have been assigned to U.S. statutes since 1908. The first number identifies the two year Congress and the second number is chronologically assigned to laws as they are enacted. However, it was not until 1957 that public law numbers were officially used for citation purposes. Before that time chapter numbers, for each congressional session, had been assigned to both public and private laws with a "statute" containing all the chapters in a particular congressional session. Thus many laws might have the same chapter number, even within the same congress. From 1995 to the present the text of public laws are available in PDF from the U.S. Government Printing Offices's database, FDsys.
The date of a public law is the day that the President signs it into law or the date when both congressional chambers override his veto. It is also the laws's effective date unless provisions within the law indicate otherwise.
The U.S. Statutes At Large contains all the public and private laws of the United States enacted by Congress since 1789. The first number of a statute citation identifies the volume number of the U.S. Statutes at Large (currently a volume number is assigned to each congressional session) followed by the beginning page number for a particular law (or title or section within a law). See U.S. Statutes At Large: Documents and Information Included.
The United States Code (USC) is an updated subject arrangement of all general and permanent laws of United States still in force. It does not include annual appropriations, name changes on public buildings, repealed laws, and other local or non-permanent matters. The USC was originally enacted in 1926 as "prima facie" evidence of the law, not positive law. On the face of it, the U.S. Code is the law of that land, but it is rebuttable by the presentation of prior statutes at variance with it. However, over time about half the 50 titles of the U.S. Code have been enacted into positive law while repealing related prior laws. The first number in a USC citation is the title and the second number is generally the section number. Provisions of public laws assigned as notes to sections in the USC also have the force of law as do statutory provisions omitted as unnecessary from the Code, but not repealed. See United States Code: Historical Outline and Explanatory Notes.
The Office of the Law Revision Counsel in the U.S. House Representatives is empowered to assign Code cites to new statutory provisions, to prepare the official U.S. Code for publication, and to prepare non-positive law titles of the U.S. Code for enactment (2 USC § 285 et. seq.). The links to the USC on this page are to those presented by the Legal Information Institute of the Cornell Law School, which obtains its data in various releases from the Office of the Law Revision Counsel. However, regardless of the release date, all information is updated in January of each year and it is generally one and one half to three years behind the current date. To check if a provision has changed see the U.S. Code Classification Tables published on the Web by the Office. Generally, only the primary U.S. Code cite of a particular law is listed for each of the above laws.
Links to the current Code of Federal Regualtions (CFR) is to the unofficial Beta site (e-CFR) on GPO Access, not to its annual CFR site. Agency regulations, promulgated pursuant to law, are first published in the Federal Register in proposed or final form where they are accompanied by explanations in the preamble. The matter in the CFR is just the finalized text of the regulations. The first number of a CFR cite is to the title and the second is to the CFR part. As with USC cites usually only one primary CFR cite is listed with the above public laws. See: A Research Guide to the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations.