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Federal Legislative History: House or Senate Actions

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

Free Online Resources

Actions on the House Floor Today from Library of Congress

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Actions on the Senate Floor Today from Library of Congress

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Actions or Debates

The steps of the legislative process that occur on the floor of either the House or the Senate are:

The introduction of a bill and its initial assignment to one or more standing committees. The name of the bill and the committee assignment are printed in the Congressional Record on the date the bill is introduced.

If the bill passes the committee, it is reported back to the issuing chamber. The fact that the bill was reported back and a citation to the committee report, if any, are printed in the Congressional Record on the date the bill is officially reported back to the chamber.

The bill is debated and voted on by the chamber. The vote and the transcripts of any debate are printed in the Congressional Record on the date(s) they occur.

If the vote passes, then the bill (now called an act) is sent to the other chamber and the whole process starts again in the other chamber.

If differences exist between the versions of the act passed in the House and the Senate, then the two chambers will create a conference on the act and produce a report resolving their differences.

Once both chambers pass the act (now called an enrolled act) it is presented to the President of the United States to be either signed or vetoed.

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

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