Congressional Document Trail

            The following outline includes all possible steps for each body ( i.e. the House and the Senate).  Not all steps are followed; the only one that must exist is the introduction of the bill.

1.      Introduction of a bill, H.R. xxx or S. xxx.  When the bill is introduced, the member often includes a statement in the Congressional Record.  The bill itself is also available in ProQuest Congressional.

2.      Upon introduction, the bill is automatically assigned to at least one Committee; it can be assigned to several, and often is assigned to Subcommittees.  At the discretion of the Committee/Subcommittee Chairs, there may be hearings.  These hearings can be identified with ProQuest Congressional.   Hearings are not necessary for the bill to proceed.

3.      For the bill to proceed, all assigned Committees must report out the legislation.  This is usually done with a Committee report, with reflects both the majority and dissenting opinions.  Committee reports can be identified in ProQuest Congressional.  To locate them in URSUS, again do an Advanced search using the numbers.

4.      In the House only, no bill can be brought to the floor without going first before the Rules Committee.  This Committee sets the parameters for the debate, i.e. so much time per side, so many amendments.  A report is generated and can be identified with ProQuest Congressional.  These can also be located using URSUS.

5.      After being reported out of Committee, a bill may make it to the floor of the body for debate.  All debate can be found in the Congressional Record.  Dates can be identified using ProQuest Congressional.   The recorded votes can be found in the Record.

6.      As both bodies of Congress must consider every bill, there are often instances when two different versions are passed.  If the two bodies can’t easily agree on one version, then a Conference Committee is called to work out a compromise, made up of selected members of both bodies. This Committee produces a report, which can be identified in ProQuest Congressional.  This can also be found using URSUS.

7.      Once a final version of a bill has passed Congress, it is then sent to the President for signing or vetoing.  If a bill is vetoed, it returns to Congress, and more floor debate is possible if a vote to overturn the veto is going to take place.  The Congressional Record is the source for this debate and vote.


  nml; 9/27/13