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Free Legal Research Sources

Legislative Process

The following table illustrates how an idea for a law eventually becomes a codified law in the United States Code.  Each of these resulting publications can be important for a researcher in understanding the purpose behind a certain law. 

Legislative Action Resulting Publications 
A bill or resolution is introduced in a chamber of Congress and referred to committee Bills and resolutions
The committee holds hearings Hearings
The committee recommends passage Senate and House reports
Chamber debates Record of debate
Chamber votes Record of votes
President signs or vetoes the bill Presidential statements
Law is enacted

Slip laws, then Statutes at Large

Law is incorporated into the United States Code (codified). United States Code

Top Ten Legislative Items

Top ten bills searched on THOMAS, compiled from weekly usage statistics.  Compiled by the Law Library of Congress.

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House Floor Today

Identifies the latest bills and resolutions considered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Compiled by the Law Library of Congress.

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Senate Floor Today

Identifies the latest bills, resolutions, nominations, and treaties considered on the floor of the U.S. Senate.  Compiled by the Law Library of Congress.

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Bills & Resolutions

State Legislative Resources

Congressional Directory

Slip Laws

Local Ordinances

Congressional Record

Statutes at Large

United States Code

Bills Presented to the President

Lists bills that have passed by both the House and Senate and have been sent to the White House for the President's signature.  Compiled by the Law Library of Congress.

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U.S. Congressional Documents

Congressional Record Daily Digest

Summarizes floor and committee proceedings in the latest Congressional Record.  Compiled by the Law Library of Congress.

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Helpful Tools

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