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Federal Legislative History: Committee Actions

A quick and basic guide to finding documents related to the passage of any given federal legislation.

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Committee Actions

Every Bill or Resolution is, upon introduction, immediately assigned to a Committee. Many introduced bills, probably a majority, remain in committee and never receive any further action. 

The committee assignment is typically printed in the Congressional Register along with the title of the bill when the bill is introduced.

Committees may take any or all of the following actions:

  • No Action - there will not be any further action on the bill, and the bill will 'die' at the end of the current Congressional Session.
  • Hearings - Public or private hearings may be held. The transcripts may be available on the committee's website, the GPO website or in print. Citations to published transcripts may be found in the Congressional Information Service (CIS) Annual.
  • Committee Prints - Draft reports, legislative analyses, investigative reports or statistical studies may have been created for the committee and these documents may be available on the committee's website or they may be included in Committee Prints, available on the GPO website. The Congressional Information Service (CIS) Annual will index all congressional documents published, whether or not the related bill was enacted.
  • Final Report - If the committee votes on the bill and passes the bill, then the bill is said to be reported back to either the House or Senate. Usually, but not always, a reported bill is accompanied by a committee report. The Congressional Record will print the fact that the bill has been officially reported and the report number of the committee report, if one exists. The date of the bill's official report may be weeks after the committee's vote to report the bill back to the appropriate chamber. The full text of the report may be available on the committee's website before becoming available through Thomas and the GPO websites. Eventually, the full text will be published in the U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCAAN) and the Congressional Information Service (CIS) Annual.

Locating Committee Hearings

This tutorial shows the step-by-step process used to locate a hearing on FDsys (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys), specifically, a hearing held by the Senate Committe on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on March 19, 2009. The topic of the hearing is "modernizing and improving bank regulation and supervision." Click on the "Full Screen" icon to enlarge the video.

Print Resources

Guide content provided courtesy of the Westminster Law Library at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

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