Skip to main content

Legislative Research: Bills and Public Laws: U.S. Bills & Public Laws

Resources for finding and tracking legislative bills and public laws current and historical.

Note

If you cannot locate U.S. Bills of interest in the online resources presented below please contact the Map and Government Information Library (MAGIL) staff for assistance.

Bills (U.S. Congress)

all years

Legislative Insight (Proquest) (GALILEO).  Offers in-depth legislative histories of thousands of U.S. public laws.  Includes various versions of the enacted bill.  This is a work in progress--years and public laws covered are being updated continuously.

1989-present

Congress.gov (Thomas).  Provides full text of multiple versions of bills. Additional information includes sponsors, related bills, and final status. This information (but not the full text of bills) is also provided for 1973-1988 (93rd-100th).   Use advanced search for past sessions.

Proquest Congressional (GALILEO).  Provides multiple versions. Search in: Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws section

1973 - 1989

House and Senate Bills on microfiche arranged by Congress, 93rd-106th (1973/1974-1999/2000).  (Map and Government Information Library, MFC J84 Y1.4/nos)

93rd-95th was compiled by the Congressional Information Service (CIS) but are filed in the Superintendant of Documents fiche cabinets at the call number above.
96th-106th was compiled by the Superintendant of Documents (SuDoc). In some cases includes multiple versions.

Index: 

93rd-95th: CIS fiche headers are labeled adequately to find the bills without help of an index.
96th-106th: Final Cumulative Finding Aid, House and Senate Bills. (Map and Government Information Library, index area)

pre-1973

Check Legislative Insight first. UGA Libraries does not possess a complete collection of pre-1973 congressional bills in hard copy.  However, the text of shorter bills and amendments is sometimes printed along with the related testimony in Congressional hearings volumes.  These are likely to be the version first introduced. The text of bills is sometimes also reproduced in committee reports (Serial Set) which present analysis and recommendations regarding specific legislation to the full chamber or Congress as a whole.  Sometimes the bill given is a substitute bill.

Digest of public general bills and resolutions, 1937-1990 (Map and Government Information Library, J84 LC 14.6) 
Determine sponsors, committee assignment, and final status of bills introduced in each session of Congress.

Congressional hearings, 1824-  Bill inclusion seems to be fairly common in hearings from the 20th century.

Search: Proquest Congressional (GALILEO) in Congressional Publications section / Search by Number tab.  This method assumes you know the Congress number and the bill number you are looking for, e.g., 92nd & H.R. 12308 or  76th & H.R. 7424. 

In the search results for hearing(s) 1969- the abstract will state if the bill text has been reproduced and give a page reference. For earlier hearings the abstract only states what bill(s) the hearing is associated with--you must find and look in the hearing to know for sure.  The full text of published hearings 1824-2003 is available in Proquest Congressional.  Just select the pdf link.  Be forewarned that many hearings from the 19th century are wholly or partially in manuscript format.  Sometimes the bill text is typed.  To find a hardcopy of selected hearings write down the SuDoc number of the hearing if present in the database record, add a "J84" in front of this number to form the call number (e.g., J84 Y4.M59/1: T25/2 1940), and proceed to the Map and Government Information Library in the subbasement of the Main Library. Be prepared to check both print and microfiche.  NOTE: The UGA Libraries do not have all "published" hearings. The nearest location for "unpublished" hearings is Emory.

Serial Set committee reports, 1817-  Worth checking from the late 19th through mid 20th century.  May also be useful for other periods. 

Search: U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1994 full text (GALILEO).  Use Bill Number search or Advanced Search.  Include the Congress number (e.g., 54) and a particular bill number (e.g., H.R. 10294).  The bill might be reproduced in the context of the report or in an untitled appendix to the report.  The bill text might be a substitute rather than the version originally introduced.

Alternative search method: Proquest Congressional as above to Congressional Publications by bill or public law number.  Look in search results for report numbers with “H. Rpt.” or “S. Rpt.” or similar prefixes.  Then find the report(s) online in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1994  

Public Laws (U.S.)

FDsys (Government Printing Office), 1995- 
Browse public laws by year and public law numerical order.

United States Statutes at Large:

1789- (HeinOnline)
1873-  (Map and Government Information Library, J84: S 7.9:)
1951~ (govinfo)
Annual volume(s) includes the text of public laws and other statutory documents such as executive orders issued during that year. Index and table of contents included. Note: recent unbound "slip laws" for one or more years are shelved with the print edition of Statutes at Large until cumulative annual volumes covering a given year are received.  Release of the annual volumes usually lags two or more years.

 

Your Librarian

John Prechtel's picture
John Prechtel
Contact:
Main Library Research & Instruction Department

706 542 3472
prechtel@uga.edu
Website
Subjects:Law

Chat with a Librarian