About Legislation of the U.S. Congress

The legislation collection includes records for every bill and resolution introduced in the U.S. Congress since 1973 (93rd Congress), and every amendment introduced or submitted since 1981 (97th Congress). Congress.gov provides various methods for accessing bill records and their associated documents, and for tracking a bill's progress through the legislative process.

Scope of Coverage

Bill records are available on Congress.gov from 1973 (93rd Congress) to the present. The full texts of bills are available from 1989 (101st Congress), and the full text of laws from 1995 (104th Congress). Amendment records are available from 1981 (97th Congress), and full text of amendments is available from 1995 (104th Congress) to the present. The legislation collection is updated the morning after a session adjourns. See Coverage Dates for Legislative Information for more information.

Legislation Numbering

A proposed piece of legislation takes one of four forms: bill, joint resolution, concurrent resolution, or simple resolution. Each newly submitted measure is given a prefix that indicates its form and chamber of origin, and a sequential number. To view all prefixes and see examples of acceptable citation formats, see Search by Number (Citation). To learn more about the forms of congressional action, see How Our Laws Are Made.

Searching Bill Records

You can search current Congress bill metadata and full text from the search located at the top of most pages (main search) by entering your search terms in the search entry box and pressing Enter on your keyboard or clicking the magnifying glass icon. Change your source selection to All Legislation to search bill metadata and full text from all Congresses included in the collection. The entire legislation collection is also searched when you select All Sources.

Bills may be searched by number or keyword from the main search, Quick or Advanced search, which includes a form optimized for legislation, a query builder for customized searches and a command line search for using SOLR query syntax. See Search Tools for details on using operators and fields in your search query. Legislation fields can be used in the main search box, the words/phrases box on quick search and advanced search forms, all fields option on the query builder, and the advanced search command line.

After your search results are returned, you can narrow the set by selecting additional criteria from the filters, also known as facets, on the left side of the results page. Filters available for legislation include Congress, Bill Type, Status of Legislation, Subject – Policy Area, Chamber, Committee, Sponsor, Cosponsor, and Party (of Sponsor). See Refining Search Results with Filters for more information.

Viewing Bill Records

Watch a video on exploring a bill record.

The bill record detail page displays a collapsible overview and eight tabs of information. The bill record page includes:

  • Legislation number and most recent title
  • Bill Overview
    • Visual Indicator – Bill, Resolution, or Law
    • Sponsor and introduction date
    • Committees
    • Committee Reports (if available)
    • Latest action with date
    • Link to All Actions tab view
    • Tracker showing legislative process status
  • Overview Sidebar
    • More on This Bill
      • Constitutional Authority Statements – House bills, 2012 - present
      • CBO Cost Estimates
    • Subjects
      • Policy Area term
      • Link to bill Legislative Subject terms
  • Tabs
    • All Bill Information – single-page presentation of all bill information except text
    • Summary – bill summaries authored by Legislative Analysts in the Congressional Research Service
    • Text – full text of all bill versions in TXT, PDF, and XML format (since 2007)
    • Actions – three options to view bill's legislative history. Includes Congressional Record page references, links to votes and committee reports.
    • Titles – official title and other titles assigned to bill as it moves through the legislative process
    • Amendments – list of amendments submitted (Senate) or offered (House)
    • Cosponsors – list of bill's cosponsors with links to member landing pages
    • Committees – history of committee-related activity with links to reports
    • Related bills – list of bills identified as related by the House, the Senate, or the Congressional Research Service

Browsing Bills and Resolutions

Browse lists provide another way to quickly access legislation filtered by specific criteria, including date of action, type of action, sponsor/cosponsor, committee, policy area, and bill type. Lists by Congress of public laws, private laws, vetoed bills, and newly added bill texts are also found in Browse.

Related Resources

Learn about the Legislative Process