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Federal Government Information: Congress

Material available through the three branches of government.

The House of Representatives

The House of Representatives Official Website
     The Official Website containing Membership information, Committee Chairs/Members, House organization, House schedules (bill introductions, committee hearings, debates, etc), and other pertinent information related to House Congressional activities.
The House Practice:  A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House
House Rules and Manual
     The House Rules and Manual is published by the the House Parliamentarian's Office and contains the fundamental source material for parliamentary procedure used in the House of Representatives. It is published during the first session of each Congress
Calendars of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate
     The Calendars of the U.S. House of Representatives and History of Legislation is prepared under the direction of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, by the Office of Legislative Operations. It is published daily by 8:00 a.m. when the House is in session. Available from 1995 (104th Congress) to present.
Find Your Representative
Not sure of your congressional district or who your member is? This service will assist you by matching your ZIP code to your congressional district, with links to your member's website and contact page. (Also FAQ)

 

The Legislative Process (from the Library of Congress)

CRS: Congressinal Research Reports

  • Congressional Research Service Reports
    The Congressional Research Service (CRS) does not provide direct public access to its reports, requiring citizens to request them from their Members of Congress. Some Members, as well as several non-profit groups, have posted the reports on their web sites. This site is not affiliated with the Congressional Research Service, but aims to provide integrated, searchable access to many of the full-text CRS reports that have been available at a variety of different web sites since 1990.
  • Homeland Security Digital Library

Congressional Districts

The Senate

The Senate of the U.S.
     The Official Website containing Membership Information, Committee assignments, floor schedules, hearings, debates, and other pertinent information related to the daily operations of the U.S. Senate.
Pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, treaty-making power lies with the President, with consent of the Senate. That means that the President (usually the President's representatives) negotiates, drafts, and signs all treaties. Until the Senate consents, however, the signed treaty has no force. The President may choose to submit the treaty to the Senate immediately, or wait until there is a greater likelihood of obtaining the necessary two-thirds vote. Many treaties signed by the United States have never been ratified, not because Senate rejected them, but because they were withdrawn from the Senate or never submitted by the President. If the Senate approves, the treaty is officially ratified and proclaimed by the President. Note that "executive agreements" (which are less formal than treaties) may be concluded by the President without consent of the Senate, under his constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs. Below are several links to find and research historical and current treaties in force.
Riddick's Senate Procedures:  Precedents and Practices
Treaties and Other International Acts to which the U.S. is a party (1996-present).
U.S. Treaties in Force
Under Article II of the Constitution, the President has the power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint Judges of the Supreme Court. Since Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life, each nomination to the Supreme Court has a long-lasting influence on the Court and on the day-to-day life of every American.
Supreme Court Nominations Process (CRS)
 Supreme Court Nominations, 1789-present
he Constitution requires the president to submit nominations to the Senate for its advice and consent. Since the Supreme Court was established in 1789, presidents have submitted 161 nominations for the Court, including those for chief justice. Of this total, 124 were confirmed (7 declined to serve). This chart lists nominations officially submitted to the Senate.
Senate Calendar (1995- present) 
The Senate Calendar of Business is prepared under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate by the Legislative Clerk. It is updated each day the Senate is in session. It identifies bills and resolutions awaiting Senate floor actions.
A History of Notable Senate Investigations
Congressional investigations date back to 1792 when the House passed a resolution to examine the disastrous St. Clair expedition. Since then Congress has conducted hundreds of investigations. This lists investigations from 1859 to 1989.

 

Both Houses

Congressional Bios, etc.

Research Guides
 
Guide to Research Collections of Former United States Senators, 1789-1995. Karen Dawley Paul. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1995.
Guide to Research Collections of Former United States Senators, 1789-1995 provides a list of archival repositories housing former senators’ papers and related materials. This publication’s content can be accessed in the online Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress under the "Research Collections" menu option.
Senators of the United States: A Historical Bibliography. Jo Anne McCormick Quatannens. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1995.
Compiled by Senate historians, Senators of the United States: A Historical Bibliography lists scholarly works about U.S. senators. Bibliographies for all U.S. senators can be found in the online Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress under the menu option "Bibliography."
The Art & History bibliography lists more literature about the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Capitol.
The United States Congressional Biographical Data Series
The data provide information on congressional service and selected biographical characteristics for each person who had served in the United States Congress in the period 1789-1996. A data record exists for every Congress in which an individual served, as well as for each chamber in which a person may have served in a given Congress. The record includes political party affiliation, district, state and region represented, and exact and cumulative dates of service in each Congress and in each chamber, as well as total congressional service. Log in to ICPSR is required (Union is a member).
Congressional Timeline
The Congressional Timeline, developed and maintained by The Dirksen Congressional Center, arrays more than 900 of the nation's laws on a timeline beginning with the first Congress in 1789 and continuing to the 2013. A second timeline "band" depicts major political events as context for Congress's law-making.
Congressional Research Tutorials
These tutorials show you how to find congressional information (bills, hearings, debates) in the library and online. They are flash videos and should begin playing automatically.  Courtesy of UC Berkeley.

 

 

 

 

 

What does this term mean?

  • Library of Congress BasementAct- In the U.S., specifically legislation that has passed both Houses of Congress and approved by the President, or passed over his veto, thus becoming law.Actmay sometimes be used for a bill that has been passed by one House of Congress, or a law enacted by a state legislature. Alternative terms: Statute, Law.  In general, a system of widely acknowledged compulsory regulation that governs the behavior of people or groups. Acts may be found at the U.S. Code site or HeinOnline's listing of the U.S. Statutes at Large (those Acts that are now law).
  • Amendment - A proposal by a member of a legislative body to alter the language of a bill or act or the final product of the process of amending a law or constitution. It is voted on in the same manner as a bill.Amendments may significantly change the effects of the original bill. The Constitution of the United States, as provided in Article 5, may be amended when two thirds of each house of Congress approves a proposed amendment and three fourths of the states thereafter ratify (confirm) it.  The U.S. Constitution and its Amendments may be found at the U.S. Archives
  • Annual Report - Every government agency produces an annual report, a document which chronicles the events and activities of that agency and its sub-agencies.  They often include statistics, reports of any legislation regarding the agency, and other departmental highlights.  The Department of Agriculture's annual report is called a Yearbook.
  • Bill - A proposed law formally introduced in the legislature. Most legislative proposals are in the form of bills and are designated as H.R. (House of Representatives) or S. (Senate), depending on the House in which they originate, and are numbered consecutively in the order in which they are introduced during each Congress. Public bills deal with general questions and become Public Laws, or Acts, if approved by Congress and signed by the President. Private bills deal with individual matters such as claims against the Federal Government, immigration and naturalization cases, land titles, et cetera, and become private laws if approved and signed.  Bills may be found at FDsys (1993-present).
  • BulletinNewsletter, or Circular -All three terms are used interchangeably and commonly refer to series publications from the Executive branch.
  • Case (Legal) -A lawsuit or formal argument.  Used instead of Hearing for trial proceedings and legal transcripts.  Legal cases from U.S. federal and state courts may be found at LexisNexis Academic's case search option.  You can search by citation (if you know it), party names, legal topics, judges involved, attorneys, or keyword, and narrow your search by jurisdiction or date.
  • Census -In the U.S., a decennial (every ten years) count and survey of the total population of the U.S., conducted by the Bureau of the Census.  This allows for accurate tax apportioning and adjustments in representation in the House of Representatives. Census information may be found at the Census Bureau.
  • Committee Report - A document covering the proceedings of Congressional committees before they send a bill back to the floor.  Reports present a committee's alterations of a bill (if applicable), information about the intent of a bill, the committee's recommendation that the bill pass, and any dissenting views.  These include both House and Senate reports.  Committee Reports may be found in the library catalog, the Serial Set database, or THOMAS(current session).
  • Concurrent Resolution -A measure similar to a bill, named "H Con Res" or "S Con Res."  It requires the approval of both houses of Congress, but does not need the President's signature.  Concurrent resolutions are used to make or amend Congressional rules or express the opinion of the Congress on some issue.  They are also used when there is a Legislative veto over a President's exercise of power. Concurrent Resolutions may be found at FDsys (1993-present).
  • Conference Report - The compromise version of a bill produced by the joint House/Senate committee that they send back to both houses for final approval.
  • Congressional Record - A somewhat verbatim record of the proceedings in the House and Senate, printed daily.  Members may edit their remarks and speeches for grammatical errors and may insert material, called an "extension of material," that they did not say during the session. The Congressional Record may be accessed through the GPO (1994-present), HeinOnline (1873-five years ago), or THOMAS(current session).
  • Hearing - A meeting or session of a committee of Congress, usually open to the public, gathering information and opinions from witnesses and expertson proposed legislation, conduct an investigation, or oversee a program. Hearings may be found in the library catalogLexis-Nexis Congressional, or on committee websites (House committees & Senate committees).
  • Joint Resolution - A measure similar to a bill, named "H J Res" or "S J Res."  It requires a majority vote from both houses and the signature of the executive, except when the resolution is a proposal of amendment to the Constitution, which does not require the President's signature.  It is primarily used by Congress to approve of Executive actions in foreign affairs or pass one-time appropriation bills for dedicated purposes. Joint Resolutions may be found at FDsys (1993-present).
  • Law - A bill that has passed both houses of Congress and the President. See Act.  In general, a system of widely acknowledged compulsory regulation that governs the behavior of people or groups.
  • Resolution - A measure adopted by one of the chambers of a legislative body, called either "H Res" or "S Res."  it does not require approval by the other house or the President.  Simple resolutions do not carry the weight of law, but are usually used to make or amend procedural rules or express the opinion of that house on some issue of foreign policy or other Executive matter.Resolutions may be found at FDsys (1993-present).
Definitions adapted from Garner, Bryan A. A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2nd ed.  NY: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print. 340.03 G234d 1995; Government Printing Office. "Glossary."Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government. Government Printing Office, 28 April 2009. Web.  14 December 2010; Plano, Jack C., & Greenberg, Milton. The American Political Dictionary.  NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967. Print. 320.03 P712a 1967; and Robertson, David.  The Routledge Dictionary of Politics, 3rd ed.  NY: Routledge, 2004. Print. 320.03 R6495R.