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Legislative Research for GOVT 452

Learn to trace the history of a bill, e.g. for the legislative history in assignment 2 for GOVT 452.

Fall 2022 Quick Start Guide


  • First, find your bill number.
  • Is your law from 1973 or later?
  • Is your law pre-1973?


Sample documents

Sample Documents: What are you looking for?

For laws passed 1973-present (93rd Congress to now)

1) Identify the major events in the history of the Bill

You now have the bill number in hand (example: 93 H.R. 11510). How did that Bill get through Congress?

You will use to get a list of the actions taken on your Bill.

  • will give you the actions taken on a Bill and the dates of those actions
  • covers only 1973 to present
  • Instructions:

2) Find specific actions in the Congressional Record

In, you found the dates of the actions on your Bill. Now you have to find some of those actions in the Congressional Record & record the citation. FOR QUESTION 6, YOU NEED THE CONG. REC. PAGE NUMBERS FOR BILL INTRODUCTIONS, PASSAGE, AND CONFERENCE REPORTS.

You will use HeinOnline to browse to the Congressional Record: 

  • Use HeinOnline to Find the Page Numbers for Legislative Actions
    • Heinonline Covers the Congressional Record from 1873-present
    • For the most recent 5 years, you will probably have to use the Daily Edition. If your year is covered in the Bound Edition, you should use the Bound Edition.
    • Link: HeinOnline
    • Instructions: 
  • Alternative for 1998 - present: access the Congressional Record via
    • Browse to the relevant date in the Congressional Record 
    • Get to the correct section (Senate if your action was in the Senate, House if in the House)
    • Browse to find the action taken on that date.

For laws pre-1973 (92nd Congress & earlier)

1) Identify the major events in the history of the Bill

You now have the bill number in hand (example: 93 H.R. 11510). How did that Bill get through Congress?

For pre-1973 legislative histories, you will need to use a specific index to the Congressional Record called the HIstory of Bills. You'll find the History of Bills in HeinOnline. 

Using HeinOnline to find the History Of Bills for Assignment 2

  • HeinOnline History of Bills will give you the action and the page in the Congressional Record
  • The History of Bills covers 1873-2009
  • IMPORTANT: If the actions in a History of Bills entry don't go from a Bill's introduction to its passage, check the other year of the relevant congress (e.g. 93-1 and 93-2) for the rest of the actions.
  • Links: HeinOnline (New for 2022: Direct Link to History of Bills & Resolutions)
  • Follow along step-by-step with this guide or see the PDF below

2) Find the dates of all actions in the Congressional Record

In the History of Bills, you found the page numbers for all actions taken on your Bill. Now you need to find the dates on which those actions occurred.

You will use HeinOnline's citation search to navigate to the Cong Rec pages & discover the dates of your actions.

Note: is not a good option for this step because its citation search only goes to 1995 in the Cong Rec.