About Bills

About Joint Resolutions

About Concurrent Resolutions

About Simple Resolutions

About Public Laws

About Private Laws

About Statutes at Large

Numbering of Laws, Volumes 1-31, 1789-1901 (1st through 56th Congress)

Numbering of Laws, Volumes 32-70, 1901-1956 (57th through 84th Congress)

Numbering of Laws, Volumes 71 and forward, 1957-Present (85th Congress forward)

About Bills

H.R.

House Bill

S.

Senate Bill

A bill is a legislative proposal brought before Congress in either the House or the Senate. Bills introduced in the House are assigned sequential numbers in the order in which they are introduced and are preceded by "H.R.". Bills introduced in the Senate are assigned sequential numbers preceded by "S.".

About Joint Resolutions

H.J. Res

House Joint Resolution

S.J. Res.

Senate Joint Resolution

A joint resolution, H.J. Res. or S.J. Res., is a legislative proposal that requires the approval of both Chambers and the signature of the President, just as a bill does, in order to have the force of law.

About Concurrent Resolutions

H. Con. Res

House Concurrent Resolution

S. Con. Res.

Senate Concurrent Resolution

A concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. or S. Con. Res., is a proposal that requires the approval of both Chambers, but does not have the force of law and does not require the signature of the President. Concurrent resolutions may be introduced in either the House or the Senate and, upon approval by both, are signed by the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate. Generally, concurrent resolutions are introduced to make or amend rules that affect the operations of both Chambers or to express the sentiment of both Chambers. For example, a concurrent resolution may be introduced to set the time of Congress' adjournment or to convey the congratulations of Congress to another country on the anniversary of its independence.

About Simple Resolutions

H. Res

House Simple Resolution

S. Res.

Senate Simple Resolution

A simple resolution, H. Res. or S. Res., is a proposal that addresses matters entirely within the prerogative of one Chamber or the other. It requires neither the approval of the other Chamber nor the signature of the President, and it does not have the force of law. Simple resolutions concern the rules of one Chamber or express the sentiments of a single Chamber. For example, a simple resolution may offer condolences to the family of a deceased Member of Congress, or it may express the opinion of one Chamber or the other on foreign policy or other executive business.

About Public Laws

Public Law

Congress

Public Law Number

P.L.

85

1

Public laws result from the passage of public bills or joint resolutions that affect the general public or classes of citizens. A legislative proposal agreed to in identical form by both Chambers becomes a law if it: receives Presidential approval, is not returned with objections to the House in which it originated within 10 days while Congress is in session, or, in the case of a proposal that has been vetoed by the President, receives a two-thirds vote overriding the veto in each Chamber.

About Private Laws

Private Law

Congress

Private Law Number

Pvt.L.

85

1

Private laws result from the passage of private bills or joint resolutions providing relief or related actions with limited applicability, affecting, for example, a specific individual, a specific corporation or other organization, or a specified locality in a specified circumstance. For example, private laws may provide relief to individuals in areas such as immigration, taxation, or settlement of claims against the Government involving veteran's benefits or military decorations.

About Statutes at Large

The United States Statutes at Large (Statutes at Large) is the official compilation of all public and private laws and resolutions passed by Congress, listed in order by date of enactment. Statutes at Large was published by Little, Brown and Co., a private firm, from 1845-1873, and has been published by the GPO since 1874.

Statutes at Large Numbering of Laws, Volumes 1-31, 1789-1901 (1st through 56th Congress)
 

Chapter

Volume

Page Number

Ch. 3

5 Stat.

4

The laws compiled in Statutes at Large were originally identified by chapter numbers that were assigned in chronological order of approval and did not distinguish between public and private laws. Since the public and private laws were listed separately during this period, each list will appear to be missing numbers if the other list is not taken into consideration. The numbering system started anew at the beginning of each session, so a single Congress could have two, three or four laws with the same chapter number, depending on the number of sessions in that particular Congress. A search for Chapter 2 in the 40th Congress, for example, will produce three results, one for each session. In this case, it is necessary to know the session number or date of enactment in order to identify a specific law.

Statutes at Large Numbering of Laws, Volumes 32-70, 1901-1956 (57th through 84th Congress)
 

Public Law Number

Chapter

Volume

Page Number

Public, No. 1

Chap. 1

32 Stat.

753

In addition to chapter numbers, laws during this period were also assigned public or private law numbers or public or private resolution numbers. During the 57th through 59th Congresses, these law and resolution numbers were assigned sequentially with the sequence beginning anew with each session of Congress, but from the 60th Congress forward, the numbering has started at the beginning of each Congress rather than each congressional session. Beginning with the 77th Congress, the separate numbering system for bills and resolutions was discontinued and from that time forward no distinction has been made between laws that were introduced as bills and laws that were introduced as joint resolutions.

Statutes at Large Numbering of Laws, Volumes 71 and forward, 1957-Present (85th Congress forward)
 

Public Law Number

Volume

Page Number

P.L. 85-1

71 Stat.

3

In 1957, use of chapter numbers was discontinued. Public and private laws continued to be numbered sequentially and separately, with each sequence covering a complete Congress rather than a session. The number of the Congress in which the law was enacted was added as a prefix to both public and private law numbers.