Keyword Search: Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws
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Use the Keyword Search form to retrieve legislative histories, bill tracking reports, bills, voting records, public laws, Statutes at Large, and the U.S. Code. Together, these resources can help you build a strong perspective on any issue or topic.

Each of the search options has an "Enter search terms" field for submitting a typical keyword search string. As with other keyword search fields, this field allows the use of logical connectors and wildcard characters.

Click a link below for additional search information on each resource:

Legislative Histories

Bill Tracking   

Bills (Full Text)

Floor Votes

Public Laws

Statutes at Large

U.S. Code

For an example of how to use this form, refer to this user scenario.

Searching Legislative Histories   

Legislative histories cite congressional publications and Congressional Record debate associated with each public law.  Referenced publications may include congressional reports, hearings, documents, and/or prints. A legislative history compilation enables researchers to trace the development of a law from its earliest consideration to its signing by the President. Legislative histories from 1984 forward contain numerous hypertext links to abstracts for congressional publications, and legislative histories from 1995 forward contain hypertext links to the Congressional Record.

Use the search field, "Restrict by words in title," to refine your search beyond what can be retrieved through a primary keyword search of the full text. Select a connector from the drop-down list, then type a second search string in this field.

For example, your primary search term could be wetlands and your title search term could be appropriations act, which would result in legislative histories for appropriations acts that mention the word wetlands.

Tip: You can search solely on the title of a legislative history by leaving the first search terms field blank, setting the connector to AND, and typing a keyword search in the "Restrict by words in title" field.

Searching Bill Tracking   

Use the Bill Tracking option to follow the status of a bill in the legislative process where you know the number of the bill. This option searches bill tracking information back to 1989 (the 101st Congress). It is updated daily.

Use "Restrict by bill sponsor" to limit your results to those bills that were sponsored by a specific individual. You can supply first and last name, or just last name. If you don't know a member's name, click the "Look up a Member" link.

Use "Restrict by bill status" to find bill tracking records for bills based on House or Senate actions, such as "reported" or "passed."  The drop-down list enumerates the various stages a bill can go through during the legislative process.

Searching Bills (Full Text)

Use the Bills (Full Text) option to search the text of bills back to 1989. Text is updated as data is released by the Government Printing Office (GPO).

As with Bill Tracking, use "Restrict by bill sponsor" to limit your results to bills that were sponsored by a specific individual. Use either first and last name or just last name. If you don't know a member's name, click the "Look up a Member" link.

Use "Restrict by bill version" to retrieve the text for specific versions of bills based on House or Senate actions, such as "introduced" or "reported"  The drop-down list enumerates the various ways a bill may be described as it moves through the legislative process.

Searching Floor Votes

Use the Floor Votes option to find how a member has voted on bills from the current or past Congresses. Floor votes are votes taken on the floor of the House or Senate by the full Chamber, and do not include votes taken within committees.  Floor vote searches can be restricted by Congress.  Floor votes, also known as roll call votes, may take place of the floor of either the House or Senate.

Searching Public Laws

The Public Laws option searches all public laws from 1988 to the present. Public laws are added to the database within two weeks after they are passed.

Searching Statutes at Large

The Statute at Large option searches the Statutes at Large from 1789 to the present. The full text of the law is in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Statutes at Large is updated annually.

Searching U.S. Code

The U.S. Code option allows the user to search the full text of the United States Code Service (USCS) as published by Matthew Bender. USCS is an annotated version of the U.S. Code that arranges the current public laws of the United States by subject titles (numbered 1-50). The U.S. Code is updated monthly with the laws passed during the previous month. The U.S. Code is the compilation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the U.S.

How to Cite:


Bill Tracking Report

Member Voting Records

U.S. Code

General Principles of Citation