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Finding Legislation

The Constitution, as stated in Article I, section 1, grants all legislative powers to the Congress. The chief function of Congress is the making of laws, a multi-step process. In addition, the Senate has the power of advice and consent with regard to treaties and nominations.

Learn how and where to find bills on the Web or in a library. If you are trying to locate legislation that has been in the news, Active Legislation is a good place to start.

How to . . . identify bill numbers

How to . . . find copies of bills


Learn about the process a bill must undergo to become a law.

Enactment of a Law

How Our Laws Are Made (pdf)

Learning About the Legislative Process

The Legislative Process:  Tying It All Together

Senate floor proceedings are governed not only by the Senate's standing rules and precedents, but by various customary practices.

Senate Legislative Process

Legislative Process on the Senate Floor:  An Introduction (pdf)

How a Senate Bill Becomes a Law (pdf)

Flow of Business:  Typical Day on the Senate Floor (pdf)

To find out how a particular law was enacted, or to determine congressional intent, one must track the steps a bill went through before becoming law. This may involve looking at copies of the legislation at each stage in the process, scanning hearings, and tracking down floor statements as well as committee reports. The How to . . . section will show you where to find some of these items, while the links below will help you piece together a legislative history.

Legislative History:  A Basic Guide for Constituents (pdf)

Federal Legislative History Research

History of Bills (Congressional Record)

Key to versions of printed legislation

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Interested in related materials? Take a look at these Virtual Reference Desk subjects and Senate Web pages for more information.

Appropriations Bills




Laws and Regulations


Rules and Procedures