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Congressional Publications

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Hearings and Prints

Introduction and guide to publications and records of the U.S. Congress, including legislation, Congressional Record, Committee Hearings and Reports and more.

Finding Committee Prints

About Committee Prints

Committee Prints, which are generally background research papers prepared for use in legislative deliberations, can be among the most difficult government documents to obtain but also among the most useful.

Prints are prepared by:

  1. Committee staff
  2. Outside consultants
  3. Congressional Research Service

They are sometimes reprinted as Senate or House Documents to increase their distribution.

The Committee Process

Most Congressional work is traditionally done in committees. When a bill is introduced in either chamber of Congress it is referred to the committee having jurisdiction over its subject matter. Most bills do not become law; some 95% of those introduced during any given Congress die in committee when that Congress ends. Note that each "Congress" lasts two years, which is the length of a term of a member of the House.

For longer treatment on the legislative process, see How Our Laws are Made and Enactment of a Law, by the Parlimentarians of the House and Senate, respectively.

Finding Committee Hearings

ProQuest Congressional (BC Community Only)

  • Full text 18th Congress (1824) to present
  • Selected transcripts 1988 - 2004
  • Published hearings abstract and indexing 91st Congress (1970) to present
  • Published hearings indexing 23rd Congress (1833) - 91st Congress (1969)
  • Unpublished Hearings, House, Indexing 23rd Congress (1833) - 92nd Congress (1972)
  • Unpublished Hearings, Senate, Indexing 18th Congress (1824) - 98th Congress (1984)

Internet Archive/Open Content Alliance

  • In collaboration with the Boston Public Library,  the Internet Archive is digitizing various government documents
  • Collection includes full text hearings from the 91st Congress (1970) to present
  • Also includes the House Un-American Activities Committee Hearings

govinfo

  • Full text of selected House and Senate hearings for the 104th Congress (1996-97) - present

Congressional Information Service Fiche Library

  • CIS Index; O'Neill Microfiche KF49.C65 - Use the Index to search for titles, subjects, names, etc. The Index will provide the CIS accessional number for locating the corresponding full text in the CIS fiche library:
    • CIS "Complete" Fiche Library (1985-2007; Law Library holdings run from 1970-present)

About Committee Hearings

Hearings are generally held for one of three reasons:

  1. To investigate legislation pending before the committee
  2. To investigate a particular topic or conduct oversight
  3. To determine the effects of laws that have already been passed

The House and Senate web pages are both good places to get background information on committees, including current memberships and schedules.

The Senate also provides a list of committee histories (PDF file). (Note that some are printed as Committee Prints and some as Senate Documents.)