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Government Information Connection: Politics and Elected Officials: Tracking Federal Legislation in Congress

Information about politicians and their activities; elections, campaigns, and voting; and political activism.


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Tracking Federal Legislation in Congress

General explanations of how a bill becomes a law, with resources for following the progress of a bill at the federal level.

Summaries of the Legislative Process

Enactment of a Law
A detailed account of the legislative process by the Parliamentarian of the U.S. Senate.
How a Bill Becomes Law
Brief outline from Project Vote Smart of steps in the legislative process, with key terms linked to a glossary.
How a Bill Really Becomes Law
Brief article by Lee Hamilton on how untidy and complicated the legislative process really is.
How Laws Are Made
A charmingly illustrated tutorial for schoolchildren on how a proposed bill moves through Congress.
How Our Laws Are Made
An exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) account of the law-making process, from the origin of a bill to its enactment into law. Written by the Parliamentarian of the House of Representatives.
I'm Just a Bill
The legislative process summarized for children in a song and animated cartoon. Lyrics
A Kid's Guide to How a Bill Becomes a Law
Simple explanation of the legislative process, with links to related sites.
Legislative History Process
Chart showing how a bill becomes law, with extensive links to online resources for researching each step.
The Legislative Process
Concise description of 13 steps to a bill's becoming law.
The Legislative Process
The legislative process is more complicated than taught in most civic courses. This site presents a detailed description of the legislative maze a bill must navigate before it can become law. Includes supplementary essays and teaching materials.

Tracking and Influencing Current Legislation

The UNT Libraries have full-text paper or microform copies of all bills for selected years. For other years, we may have full-text copies only of bills that passed, with abstracts of bills that did not pass. Ask at the Government Documents Service Desk for help with finding texts of bills. Track Federal Legislation
Use this free subscription service to perform customized tracking of Congressional legislative activities by issues, bills, and members of Congress. United States Legislative Information
The most extensive online collection of information on current and recent U.S. federal legislation. Includes current activities in Congress, bills and public laws, committee reports and selected committee hearings, a directory of current members of Congress, and an explanation of how a bill becomes law.
ProQuest Congressional
Select "Legislative Histories, Bill, and Laws" from the menu to search by keyword or document number.
United States Legislative Branch
Includes information about Congress with links to Congressional committees and publications.
Congressional Record
The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress. The Congressional Record has been mandated to be "substantially a verbatim" account of the activities of Congress. In fact, however, members of Congress are allowed to change, omit, or add remarks as they wish, even to the point of changing the meaning of what they actually said on the floor, thus compromising this publication's value as a historical document. The Congressional Record and its predecessors—the Annals of Congress, Register of Debates, and Congressional Globe—have been published since 1789.
Congressional Record Index and Daily Digest
This is useful for locating the pages in the Congressional Record that refer to a particular subject or bill.

Specific Aspects of the Legislative Process

Selected Congressional Research Service Reports on Congress and Its Procedures

Essays, outlines, and other information on various details of the legislative process, designed to clarify certain issues and procedures for members of Congress.

The Committee System in the U.S. Congress
Congressional Research Service report on how Congress uses committees to accomplish its work.

Conference Committee and Related Procedures: An Introduction

Congressional Research Service report on House and Senate procedures for reaching agreement on legislation.

House and Senate Rules of Procedure: A Comparison

This Congressional Research Report compares selected House and Senate rules of procedure for various stages of the legislative process: referral of legislation to committees; scheduling and calling up measures; and floor consideration. No attempt is made to present a comprehensive discussion of how both chambers operate. The appendices provide sources of additional information about House and Senate rules of procedure.

"Tying It All Together"

A brief overview of the legislative process in the House, with cross-links to appropriate sections of How Our Laws Are Made.

How Measures are Brought to the House Floor: A Brief Introduction

This Congressional Research Service report provides a brief description of the methods used to bring proposed legislation to the House floor for consideration. These methods allow for consideration as a privileged matter, under the limited privilege of a special calendar or day, under suspension of the rules, under the terms of a special rule, or by unanimous consent.\

Legislative Process: How a Senate Bill Becomes a Law

Flowchart outlining the bill status, the people involved , and where the action takes place at each stage of the legislative process in the Senate. Some steps in the chart are linked to more thorough explanations.

Senate Legislative Process

A rather extensive explanation of the legislative process in the Senate, reproduced from a Congressional Research Service report.

Definitions of Legislative Terms

C-SPAN Congressional Glossary

Definitions of terms commonly used during the legislative process.

CongressLink Glossary
Definitions and brief explanations of terms related to Congress and to the United States Constitution.

Senate Glossary

Definitions of terms commonly used in Senate proceedings.

Additional Links