Government Information: U.S. Laws
US Laws - Introduction
The Constitution delegates the authority to pass legislation solely to Congress (the Legislative Branch); however, before a law can be enacted it must be signed by the president, and in order to remain it must stand up to judicial review.
A bill is a proposed law brought before the House and/or Senate for consideration. Members of the House and Senate may a propose bill to become law, although the majority of bills that come before congress have been drafted by interest groups and the executive branch. Bills dealing with money, taxes, and the budget must originate in the House, and only members may introduce bills in the House.
This page offers resources to help you find and track bills, as well as resources to help you to better understand the Legislative process.
Tools for Finding Legislation
- ProQuest Congressional: "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws"On the left side of the page, click "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws" to search for: Legislative histories, bill tracking, full text of bills, floor votes, Public Laws, and US Code.
- Shepard's Acts and Cases by Popular Names, Federal and State (print) 3rd Floor"A compilation of popular names by which federal and state acts and cases have been referred to or cited together with an identification of each act in terms of its constitutional or statutory references and each case in terms of the volume and page reference where the text of the decision may be found."
- U.S. Statutes at Large (Current)"The United States Statutes at Large, typically referred to as the Statutes at Large, is the permanent collection of all laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress. Every public and private law passed by Congress is published in the Statutes at Large, in order of the date it was enacted into law." Available in print, microfiche, and online.
- U.S. Statutes at Large (1789-1875)Permanent collection of all laws & resolutions passed by Congress hosted by the Library of Congress
- Public Laws 1973-PresentA resource from the Library of Congress; "Public laws affect society as a whole, and make up most of the laws passed by Congress."
- Legal Information InstitutePrimary legal materials and links to a wide array of U.S. and international legal reference websites. From Cornell Law School.
- LegisLink.orgProvides the unofficial text of all statutes at large, public law cites, and US code cites from 1787 to present. You must know the number of the bill, statute, code, vote, or law to use this resource.
Federal Legislative & Regulatory Sources
Bills through GPO FDsys (1993- )
Bills through Congress.gov (1973- )
Bills through ProQuest Congressional (1989- )
LAWS AS PASSED THROUGH CONGRESS
Laws through GPO FDsys (1995- )
Laws through Congress.gov (1973- )
Public Laws through ProQuest Congressional (1989- )
--Choose "Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws" link, then "Public Laws"
LAWS CODIFIED = U.S. CODE
How a Bill Becomes Law
- Legislative Process: How a Senate Bill Becomes a LawThis handy PDF explains the legislative process from drafting, through committee committee action, to presidential action.
- Enactment of a LawThis guide from the Library of Congress can be viewed online or downloaded in PDF format. 'Enactment of a Law" provides the history and processes of Federal lawmaking.