Legislation is introduced by a member of the House or Senate as a Bill or Resolution and given a sequential number and abbreviation. For example, 112 H.R. 300 refers to the Bill from the 112th Congress, introduced by the House of Representatives, number 300. Abbreviations for types of legislation include Bills (H.R. or S.), Simple Resolutions (H. Res. or S. Res.), Joint Resolutions (H. J. Res. or S. J. Res.), or Concurrent Resolutions (H. Con. Res. or S. Con. Res).
A single bill may have many amendments, and it is often useful to compare earlier versions to the final enacted language in order to better understand the intent of a law. Most bills introduced in each Congress will either become Public Laws or "die" on the floor, in which case a similar bill may be introduced in the next Congress. For more information on acts and Public Laws, see the Federal Acts (Public Laws) guide.
The following websites and databases may provide texts of Bills and Resolutions. Some also contain tracking reports that provide information on the history and status of a bill and may include prior versions and/or citations to related documents.
If you are conducting a legislative history on bills related to a statute, you will first have to find some information regarding each bill. Bill numbers can often be found through the United States Code and Statutes at Large. See the United States Code guide for how to find these resources through Jenkins.
Note the P.L. number, Statutes at Large citation, bill number, and year. This information is useful when researching the legislative history.
You may also find more recent bill numbers in the U.S. Code, Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.) from 1941 - present, or through the slip laws on govinfo.gov (see the United States Code and Federal Acts (Public Laws) guides). Bill numbers for earlier laws can be found in the Legislative Reference Checklist on HeinOnline or through the indexes and tables of the Congressional Record (see the Congressional Record (Debates & Votes) page of this guide).
Congress.gov Library of Congress
Coverage begins with the 93rd Congress (1973-1974). Historical coverage includes 1799-1873 & 1951-1972. Historic coverage may not be complete. The top search bar defaults to "Current Congress". Click the box to switch to "All Congresses" or to search by source type. Under the search bar, select "More Options" for additional search filters, including a specific Congress, Legislation and Law Numbers, Legislative Actions, Sponsors/Cosponsors, and Committees. Search results can be refined by using the side panel on the search results screen. Can also conduct an Advanced Search. For additional tips, see the Search Tools page.
Congressional Bills govinfo (GPO)
Coverage begins with the 103rd Congress (1993-1994). Can Browse by Congress and Legislation Number. To search Congressional Bills, click the orange "Search" button, select "Advanced", then under "Refine by Collection" select "Congressional Bills". Search results can be further refined by using the side panel on the search results screen. For additional information and tips, see the About Congressional Bills page.
Legislative Reference Checklist: The Key To Legislative Histories from 1789 To 1903
Available on HeinOnline. Useful finding aid for historical bills. Full-text of bills not available through this resource. Tables list the P.L. number, Statute at Large citation, date, and bill number. Once in HeinOnline, select U.S. Federal Legislative History Library > Legislative Reference Checklist > The Key to Legislative Histories from 1789-1903.
Congressional Publications - Search By Number: Congressional Bills
Available on ProQuest Congressional. Indexing of bills and bill profile reports available from 1st Congress (1789-1791) - present. Full text may be PDF or HTML formats. Bill Profile Reports may be available for select bills. See the Using ProQuest Congressional page of this guide for more information.
Congressional Full Text Bills
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Content tab, select Statutes and Legislation > Bill Text. Begins with the 101st Congress (1989-1990). Contains the full text of all versions of legislation introduced in the individual Congress. Searches each Congress separately.
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From Content Types tab, select Proposed & Enacted Legislation > Federal > Congressional Bills. Contains bills introduced from the current legislative session.
Historical Federal Bills
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From Content Types tab, select Proposed & Enacted Legislation > Historical Proposed Legislation (Bills) (located in the Tools & Resources box on the right) > Historical Federal Bills. Begins with the 104th Congress (1995-1996).
U.S. House & Senate Bills
Available on the library's Bloomberg Law computers. From All Legal Content Search, select U.S. Legislative > U.S. Congress > U.S. House & Senate Bills. Contains bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate beginning with 1993.