Frequently-Asked Questions about LexisNexis® Congressional
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Bookmark Advanced Form searches in LexisNexis® Congressional

Find congressional publications on a specific topic?

Find testimony from a hearing?

Find a publication or a bill that I just heard about in the news within the last few days?

Find information about a Senator or Representative?

Find information about a congressional committee?

Find the debate on a bill or a topic?

Find the outlook for passage of a bill into law?

Find the text of a bill?

Find out where a bill is in the legislative process?

Find a legislative history of a law?

Find the final vote on a bill?

Cite congressional publications?

Find all the regulations that relate to a topic or to a law?

Find ideas for a paper?

Access the Statutes at Large optional module?

Find congressional publications on a specific topic?

To access congressional publications on a specific topic, search using keywords on the Basic or Advanced Search forms. The Advanced Search form allows you to restrict their search by publication type and limit the search to subjects only.

Improve search results by using the Index Term look-up tool accessible from the Basic or Advanced Search forms. The LexisNexis Congressional subject term index provides both controlled vocabulary subject terms and geographical terms. You may type the term you are looking for in the search box or browse alphabetically. Once you find the term(s) you want, use the Paste to Search button to add the terms to the search form.

LexisNexis® Congressional controlled vocabulary subject terms have been assigned to metadata records to help the user obtain comprehensive search results. Searches using controlled vocabulary subject terms return results that gather similar content, regardless of variations in the way the content may be described in the source publications. The assignment of a subject term indicates that there is a substantial amount of information on that topic within the source document, rather than just a passing mention.

Some terms do not have a checkbox next to them. These “non-preferred” terms direct the user to search using similar or related terms. A subject-restricted search on a non-preferred term will produce no results.

The presence of “broader/related” and “see also” terms is also noted. Choose terms that best approximate the level of specificity desired, and select all terms that apply. For example, if you select the term “Fish and fishing industry”, you will get results citing publications that include material on fish and the fishing industry in general. If you want your search to include results on specific types of fish, you must also select all the “see also” terms that interest you.

Find testimony from a hearing?

Testimony occurs when witnesses testify at a committee hearing before a full committee or a subcommittee. Most testimony will be found within the “hearings” publication type, but the other publication types sometimes include hearings testimony as well.

To access testimony, search using the Basic or Advanced Search forms. The Advanced Search form allows you to restrict the search by publication type and permits searches limited to subject, witness name, or witness affiliation.

The Basic Search and the Advanced Search default will return metadata records linked to testimony transcripts and witnesses’ written statements. The Advanced Search drop-down option "All Fields Including Full Text" will go directly to the metadata or the transcripts and written statements. The advantage of accessing the metadata record first is that the record provides bibliographic and content information that will help make sense of the testimony materials.

Find a publication or a bill that I just heard about in the news within the last few days?

Bill texts and House and Senate reports usually become available within a day or two of publication by the Government Printing Office (GPO). House and Senate documents become available within a week or so of publication. Hearings transcripts and/or selected witness statements become available for most hearings a day or two after the hearing is held.

To find bill texts, select "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws" from the left-hand navigation bar. If you know the subject of the bill, select "Bills (Full Text)" from the Keyword Search form and type in a search term associated with the bill. If you know the number of the bill, select the "Get a Document" tab, choose "Bills (Full Text)" from the drop-down, and enter the bill number in the search box. Make sure the drop-downs for Congress and Chamber are set correctly. At times there may be a delay after a bill has been introduced before it is included in LexisNexis Congressional because of GPO printing delays.

To find House and Senate reports or documents, select "Congressional Publications" from the left-hand navigation bar. Go to the Advanced Search form and enter one or more keyword terms in the search box(es). Change the drop-down so that you search all fields including full text. You may also limit your search to "House & Senate Reports" or "House & Senate Documents" and restrict your search by date. Your results will include the full text of the report or document as well as a metadata record linked to the full text that provides bibliographic data and indexing. The metadata record linked to the full text may also be accessed by a keyword search on the Basic Search form.

If you know the number of the report or document, you may also select the "Search by Number" tab. The default is already set to find a congressional publication by number. Type in the number of the publication you are looking for in the" Publication Number" search box. If you are searching for a publication other than a House report, you must change the default drop-down next to Publication Number to select the correct publication type. The Congress default is already set to the current Congress. Enter the report number in the search box and click the Search button. You will retrieve a metadata record linked to the full text.

To find hearing transcripts and/or selected statements, select "Congressional Publications" from the left-hand navigation bar. Go to the Advanced Search form and enter one or more keyword terms in the search box(es). Change the drop-down so that you search all fields including full text. You may also limit your search to hearings and restrict your search by date. Your results will include available transcripts and submitted statements, a metadata record that provides bibliographic data and indexing, and links to the transcripts and statements. The metadata record linked to the full text may also be accessed by a keyword search on the Basic Search form.

Keep in mind that a topic that surfaces in news reports may not have new congressional publications associated with it. If you’ve restricted your search by date and don’t find what you are looking for, try expanding the date range to include earlier publications.

Find information about a Senator or Representative?

Select "Members & Committees" from the left-hand navigation bar.

The default tab is "Member Records". Type the name of the Senator or Representative in whom you are interested into the search box. If you aren’t sure of the name, click the Member link to access a list of member names.

Use the buttons to select the type of information you need about the member. Select "Bill Sponsored" to find out which bills members sponsored going back to 1989 (101st Congress). Select "Campaign Contributors" to find the names of individuals and political action committees that contributed to a particular member, and how much they contributed during election cycles going back to 1987-88. Select "Campaign Finance Reports" to retrieve summaries of member campaign financial data going back to the 1989-90 election cycle. Select "Financial Disclosures" to obtain member financial disclosure statements going back to calendar year 1991. Select "Floor Statements" to find Congressional Record excerpts going back to 1985 (99th Congress). Select "Floor Votes" to obtain vote reports that state how members voted on specific bills going back to 1987 (100th Congress). Select "Key Votes" to find out how members voted on legislation deemed to be of special interest to the public going back to 1987 (100th Congress). Select "Personal Profiles" to obtain member biographical information, committee assignment information, and contact information.

To search for a Senator or Representative in the current Congress by descriptive criteria, go to the Demographics tab and choose characteristics on which to base your search. Descriptive criteria options include gender, race, party affiliation, State or territory represented, date of birth, religion, military service, and education.

Find out information about a congressional committee?

Select "Members & Committees" from the left-hand navigation bar.

Select the Committees tab. Type in the name of the committee in which you are interested in the search box. If you are unsure of the committee name, click the Committee link to access a list of committee names. The committee name search may be restricted by Chamber by selecting from House, Senate, or Joint from the drop-down above the committee name.

Select Roster to find committee and subcommittee member listings, staff listings and contact information, and full committee charters for the current Congress only.

Select "Committee Schedule (from FIND)" to search by keyword for information on committee meetings, hearings, and markups going back to 2000.

Select "Committee Schedule (from Federal News Service Daybook)" to search by keyword for information on committee meetings, hearings, and markups going back to 1996.

Find the debate on a bill or a topic?

Congressional debate is found in the Congressional Record.

Select "Congressional Record & Rules" from the left-hand navigation bar.

The default tab provides you with a Keyword Search form. If you know the topic or bill number being debated, fill in that information in the search box. If you are looking for a bill, remember to include a bill prefix (such as S. or H.R.) and the bill number (such as H.R. 502 or S. 234) and to limit the search by Congress or a date range within a particular Congress.

If you have a page citation for the daily version of the Congressional Record or know the date for which you are searching, click the "Get a Document" tab. Search for a specific page by selecting the volume number and Congressional Record section from the drop-down and typing in the page number. You need to type in the page number at the beginning of the section you want to retrieve. If you are sure you have a valid citation, but your search returns no results, try typing in the number of a previous page. To search by date, select the month from the drop-down and type in the date and year.

Find the outlook for passage of a bill into law?

There is no way to be sure that a bill will become a law or to predict the odds of passage. The best course of action with this type of research is to take a look at secondary sources to gain editorial insight from those who follow legislative activities. To do this, select "Political News/Hot Topics" from the left-hand navigation bar to access The Hill, Roll Call, and The Washington Post (Section A).

To check the progress of a bill, select "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws" from the left-hand navigation bar. If you know the topic the bill is on, enter your search term on the default Keyword Search form, and select "Bill Tracking" for your search within option. Your search can be restricted by bill sponsor or status or by the Congress number. If you know the number of the bill, click the "Get a Document" tab and select "Bill Tracking" from the drop-down. Select the Congress and Chamber from the drop-downs and type in the bill number.

Find the text of a bill?

To find bill texts, select "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws" from the left-hand navigation bar.

If you know the subject of the bill, select "Bills (Full Text)" from the Keyword Search form and type in a search term associated with the bill. The search can be restricted by sponsoring member, version, or Congress.

If you know the number of the bill, select the "Get a Document" tab, choose "Bills (Full Text)" from the drop-down and enter the bill number in the search box. Make sure the drop-downs for Congress and Chamber are set correctly.

Note that metadata records accessed from the Basic, Advanced, or Search by Number forms that mention bills contain links to bill texts. Bill texts may also be accessed from bill tracking reports.

Find out where a bill is in the legislative process?

To access bill tracking reports, select Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws from the left-hand navigation bar.

If you know the subject of the bill, select Bills (Full Text) from the Keyword Search form and type in a search term associated with the bill. The search can be restricted by sponsoring Member, bill status, or Congress.

If you know the number of the bill, select the Get a Document tab, choose Bill Tracking from the drop-down and enter the bill number in the search box. Make sure the drop-downs for Congress and Chamber are set correctly.

Note that the full texts of bills contain links to bill tracking reports.

Find a legislative history of a law?

There are two ways to find legislative histories in LexisNexis Congressional. One is to select "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws" from the left-hand navigation bar. The other is to search using the Basic, Advanced, or Search by Number forms.

If you select "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws" from the left-hand navigation bar, use the default Keyword Search form if you know the subject matter of the law. This search can be restricted by words in the public law title or by Congress. Make sure that the default "Legislative Histories" option is selected. To improve your search results, use the "Subject Terms" link to access the controlled vocabulary subject term list. If you know the public law number, the Statutes at Large citation, or the enacted bill number associated with the legislative history for which you are searching, select the "Get a Document" tab and enter the number you know in the appropriate search boxes. If you search using the public law number or the enacted bill number, make sure you select the appropriate Congress from the drop-down.

If you search on the Basic or Advanced Search forms, legislative histories will be included in your search results. The Advanced Search form allows you to limit your search to return results from legislative histories only. To use the Search by Number form to search for legislative histories, select "Find a Legislative History by Number" from the drop-down. You can search by Public Law Number, Statutes at Large, or Enacted Bill Number.

Find the final vote on a bill?

Access bill tracking reports by selecting "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws" from the left-hand navigation bar.

If you know the subject of the bill, select "Bills (Full Text)" from the Keyword Search form and type in a search term associated with the bill. The search can be restricted by sponsoring member, bill version, or Congress. If you know the number of the bill, select the "Get a Document" tab, choose "Bill Tracking" from the drop-down, and enter the bill number in the search box. Make sure the drop-downs for Congress and Chamber are set correctly.

After you retrieve the correct bill tracking report, you can confirm that the bill became a public law by checking the status column. If a bill was enacted into law, the last entry should indicate that action. To locate the final vote, scroll through the legislative chronology. Links to votes appear to the right of the action. Look for the last vote cited. The text next to the link will indicate that the referenced vote refers to passage of the bill.

Cite the congressional publications that I have found?

Depending on the publications you found, there are varying rules that you should follow to cite them in a footnote or bibliography. Search the Help Text for the complete online text of the How To Cite Electronic Publications guide.

Find all the regulations that relate to a topic or to a law?

Access the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Register by selecting Regulations from the left-hand navigation bar. If you know the topic of the regulation, search the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) or the Federal Register (FR) by entering search terms on the Keyword Search form. The CFR search can be restricted by agency name and date, and the FR search can be restricted by agency name, type of action, and date. If you know the CFR or FR citation, use the "Get a Document" form.

Find ideas for a paper?

Select "Political News/Hot Topics" from the left-hand navigation bar. Select the "Hot Bills & Hot Topics" tab.

The Hot Bills & Hot Topics site presents links to bills and news articles related to issues of national importance. It features bills under consideration or recently enacted, along with news links grouped by topic areas. LexisNexis editors update this site monthly.

Access the Statutes at Large optional module?

If your institution has arranged for access to the Statutes at Large Module, you can access it by clicking on Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws on the left-hand navigation bar. Once you click through, you will be able to select a Statutes at Large search option from the Keyword Search form or the Get a Document search form.  Remember, that you will have to select the Statutes at Large option from the Keyword Search or Get a Document search form, as that is not the default search option.  If you would like to bookmark the Statutes at Large search, please refer to instructions contained in the Bookmarking section of the Help.