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Federal Legislative History: Home

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

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Many resources listed in these guides require University of Denver or University of Denver Sturm College of Law IP addresses for access. Other resources, such as Westlaw and Lexis, require individual user accounts and passwords.

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This guide’s purpose is to aid law students and practitioners in researching Federal legislative history materials, such as committee reports, floor debates and introduced bills. The subjects/keywords and call numbers are hyperlinked to the library’s catalog. Please remember that this guide is not an exhaustive list of materials or resources.

The Tabs across the top of the page are in reverse chronological order of creation. The earliest mention of a law will be as a bill when it is introduced in either the House or Senate. Then the bill will be assigned to a House or Senate Standing Committee. If the Committee passes the bill it is introduced on the floor of the House or Senate for further debate or a vote. Then, if passed, the bill is sent to the President to be signed into law or vetoed. If the bill becomes law it will be published as a Public Law. And if the law is of interest to someone, a Legislative History may then be compiled and published.

For an in-depth examination of the legislative process see Sullivan, J. V, & Brady, R. A. (2007). How our laws are made. Rev. and updated / Washington: U.S. G.P.O., available in HTML and PDF versions through the Library of Congress.


Flowchart of a bill's passage into law

by Andrew J. Tig Wartluft

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