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Information about this edition
Edition: Ongoing Series
Source: Congressional Record via Library of Congress - THOMAS
Congressional Record via GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys).
Contributor(s): George Orwell III
Level of progress:
Notes: Also see citation template {{USCongRec}}

About the Congressional RecordEdit

How Congress Keeps Records of its ProceedingsEdit

The official records of House and Senate actions are kept in their respective journals, but a fuller record of proceedings is kept in the Congressional Record, which has been published by the Government Printing Office (GPO) since 1873. GPO publishes new issues of the record daily and transmits each new issue to the Library of Congress overnight. A new issue becomes available on THOMAS the following morning. Issues are available online from 1989 (the 101st Congress) to the present. Printed copies of the record may be found in Federal Depository Libraries.

Before 1873, records of congressional proceedings were kept under various titles: Annals of Congress, Register of Debates and Congressional Globe. These may be found in the Century of Lawmaking collection in American Memory.

How the Congressional Record is OrganizedEdit

The Congressional Record is, to a large extent, a verbatim account of the floor proceedings of the House and Senate. Each daily issue consists of four parts:

  • House of Representatives
  • Senate
  • Extensions of Remarks (text not actually part of floor activity but inserted later)
  • Daily Digest (a summary of the day's activities in both chambers)

Each part is paginated separately and continuously for each session of Congress. Page numbers are preceded by single letters designating the part:

  • H for House,
  • S for Senate,
  • E for Extensions,
  • D for Daily Digest
(e.g., H14990, S2987, E19, D2339).

After the end of each session, a permanent final version of the record is prepared. In this version, the pagination is continuous, without any section designations, and there is some editing and re-arrangement. Congressional Record files on THOMAS represent the daily edition, not the final.

What is Included in Each PartEdit

House and Senate PartsEdit

These two parts contain debates and statements made on the floor of each chamber, as well as records of various parliamentary actions and roll call votes. In addition, it contains communications from the president and the executive branch, memorials, petitions and information about legislation, including amendments. Committee activities are not reported here, though mention is made of reports received and meeting notices. Conference committee reports are typically printed in the record. Members are allowed to edit the transcript of their floor remarks before publication in the daily record or the permanent record.

Extensions of RemarksEdit

This section is now used only by representatives to include additional legislative statements not actually delivered on the House floor, as well as extraneous material, such as texts of speeches delivered outside Congress, letters from and tributes to constituents and newspaper or magazine articles. Similar extraneous material from senators is inserted in the Additional Statements section of the Senate part of the record.

Daily DigestEdit

This section provides a concise summary of the day's congressional activity. Typically, it is organized under these headings:

  • Highlights
  • Senate Chamber Actions
  • Senate Committee Meetings
  • House Chamber Actions
  • House Committee Meetings
  • Committee Meetings Scheduled for the Following Day

Friday (or the last legislative day of the week) issues contain a section titled Congressional Program Ahead, which outlines the plans of each chamber and its committees for the upcoming week.

See also : An Overview of the Congressional Record and Its Predecessor Publications - Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. - LLSDC, Sourcebook