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Federal Legislative History: Overview

Basic information related to understanding, locating, and compiling federal legislative histories using resources at the CT State Library and online.

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External links about legislative history are provided as an information service only.

Federal Depository Library Program

FDLP logoThe Connecticut State Library participates in the Federal Depository Library Program. Through the program we  receive, at no charge, all the documents issued by federal agencies and published by the Superintendent of Documents. Additionally, we include links in our catalog to online federal documents. Our collection of federal material dates back to 1789 and contains over 1.5 million documents in print, microform and electronic formats. 

Legislative Intent

Determining the legislative intent of federal laws often requires understanding legislative history, which refers to the various materials related to a specific law or bill.

The legislative history for a typical public law often consists of the following:

  • Bills
  • House & Senate documents
  • Committee hearings & markups
  • Committee reports
  • Floor debates
  • Committee prints
  • Conference reports
  • Presidential signing statements

The boxes below list resources where you can find some of these items.

  • Online tab resources are available outside of the library (some require a CT State Library card).  
  • In the Library tab resources are print, microfiche, and electronic resources that are only available at the library.

Some of these resources may be available through the official House of Representatives, Senate, or Committee websites. 

Though this seems straightforward, keep in mind that laws are frequently revisited and amended by subsequent laws. Although it is possible to find the history of a particular public law, the history of an entire codified section may require compiling the histories of numerous, separate public laws. In addition, the legislative history for a specific public law often includes more than one bill (usually at least one from each chamber).  

For more information on researching laws, please see the Locate a Public Law research guide. 

Bills & Amendments

House and Senate Documents

House and Senate Documents are included in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set. For additional information, please see the Government Information Reference Services guide below. House and Senate Documents are also available on FDsys from 1975 to present.

Committee Hearings & Markups

Committee Reports

Floor Debates

Committee Prints

Conference Reports

Presidential Signing Statements

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