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Political Science

Provides free and subscription resource recommendations in general and various political science subfields. Includes listings of the most widely used political science data and statistical resources.

The Legislative Process

If you are unfamiliar with the path a bill takes before it becomes law, several useful resources can guide you through the process of how a bill becomes law. Having a basic understanding of the steps of law-making will make it easier to choose the right documents for your research. For a quick, entertaining visual overview, we recommend I'm Just a Bill, a 1970s video from Schoolhouse Rock that is still used today in law schools across the country to introduce students to the basics of how a bill becomes law.

You may also be interested in the "updated" version by POLITICO called "Remember ‘I’m Just a Bill’? Here’s the 2021 version."

Bills & Resolutions

The four principal forms of Congressional actions are billsjoint resolutionsconcurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions. After a bill or resolution is introduced, it is assigned a bill or legislative number, printed and referred to a committee.  For more detailed explanations of the four principal forms of legislation go to the Bills & Resolutions section of House.gov. The following resources are considered the most comprehensive for locating the full text of bills.  

Committee Hearings

After the referral of a bill to a committee, members of the House set a date for public hearings to hear witness testimony. Hearings are held for most substantive proposals however, not all hearings are published. Congressional hearings that are published, are done so two months to two years after they are held. Hearings are broadly classified into four types: legislativeoversightinvestigative, and consideration of presidential nominations. Transcripts of most hearings are published and growing collections of videotaped congressional hearings are also available. 

Committee Reports

A committee report is produced if the committee votes to report a bill. Committee reports are produced by House and Senate committees and accompanying legislation. Each report provides a description of a bill, a description of the committee actions, findings of committee hearings, and the outcome of committee deliberations.

Committee Prints

Committee prints are internal documents provided for members of congressional committees. A committee print might include committee rules or a report on a policy issue that the committee wants to distribute in is less formal way than a committee report. Although committee prints are sometimes viewed as reports, they are not the same as committee reports that are officially numbered like House or Senate reports. Please note that committee prints are not always submitted for publication.

Debates

After a bill is reported out of Committee, it precedes to the floor of the House or Senate for consideration and debate. During the debates, members argue for and against the proposed legislation. All debates on the bill are read into the  "Congressional Record" which is the official record of the proceedings, debates, and activities of Congress. The Congressional Record also contains inserted materials, communications from the President and executive agencies, memorials, and petitions. The Congressional Record also contains the bill's full text, the text of any amendments, and the record of votes taken. Listed below are resources for the Congressional Record.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the non-partisan research arm of the United States Congress. CRS experts prepare reports to assist Senators and Congressmen throughout the legislative process, providing background information and detailed analysis on various public policy issues. Primary research is conducted in the areas of U.S. law, domestic social policy, foreign affairs, defense and trade, government and finance, resources, and science and industry. Reports contain citations of sources along with figures and tables.