About the Congressional Record
After each day that Congress is in session, the proceedings are printed in the Congressional Record (CR) and available the following morning.
New daily issues, reporting business from the previous day if either the House or Senate or both met, are usually available by 10:00 am. Late availability, often due to a late night Congressional session, is announced on the Most Recent Issue page. You can also subscribe to daily email alerts for new CR issues.
Daily Congressional proceedings may include legislative activity by the chambers and their committees, Member remarks, communications from the president, and more (described below in Congressional Record Sections). Note that official records of House and Senate actions are recorded in their respective journals.
Congress.gov provides numerous ways to access the CR. Among them are:
- Congressional Record specialized search form
- Actions tab links to introductory remarks, consideration, and texts in CR (example)
- Bill History in the Congressional Record [from Actions tab] (example)
- Browse By Date (1995-present)
- Archive (1989-1994)
- Congressional Record Index
- Member Remarks in the Congressional Record (example)
- Fielded Search (all of these fields are supported)
- You can subscribe to daily alerts for new CR issues
- Map CR Volumes to Years
- Get the app for: iPhone or iPad
Scope of Coverage
Congress.gov provides full-text access to daily CR issues dating from 1995 (beginning with the 104th Congress). New issues become available on Congress.gov shortly after they are published on GPO's FDsys usually before 10:00 am. Late availability, often due to a late night Congressional session, is announced on the Most Recent Issue page. Issues are not usually printed for days that neither the Senate nor House met.
Congressional Record Bound Edition
At the end of each session of Congress, all of the daily editions are collected, re-paginated, and re-indexed into a permanent, bound edition. This permanent edition, referred to as the Congressional Record (Bound Edition), is made up of one volume per session of Congress, with each volume published in multiple parts, each part containing approximately 10 to 20 days of Congressional proceedings. The primary ways in which the bound edition differs from the daily edition are continuous pagination; somewhat edited, revised, and rearranged text; and the dropping of the prefixes H, S, and E before page numbers.
Congress.gov provides access to the Bound Edition of the Congressional Record from 1963 (88th Congress) through 1994 (103rd Congress). A project is underway to add older volumes. See Coverage Dates for Legislative Information for current information on Congressional Record volumes available on Congress.gov.
Browsing the Congressional Record
- Browse By Date browse entire issues and all sections, 1995-present
- Filters facilitate limiting items by Congress, Chamber of Origin, Section, and Member Remarks, 1995-present
- Congressional Record Index is topical access to remarks and activities by Members, individuals, organizations, and legislative business mentioned in the CR. Index entries include a linked Congressional Record page number and the day and month of the issue where the topic is discussed.
Searching the Congressional Record
- To search the full text of the CR, choose Congressional Record from the search dropdown menu on the homepage, and enter a keyword or phrase in quotes. Refine search results by using the “search within” feature, or by selecting additional criteria from the filters to the left of results.
- Congressional Record - Specialized Search Forms describes additional search options.
- See Congressional Record Search Tips.
- See Search Tools Overview for details on using operators and fields in your search query.
Congressional Record Sections
The CR is a daily account of the business conducted by each chamber and their committees. Each issue may include these sections:
Daily Digest is the default view for the CR. It provides a summary of the previous day's legislative activity. These headings may be present within the Daily Digest section:
- Highlights (example)
- Senate Chamber Action (example)
- Senate Committee Meetings (example)
- House Chamber Action (example)
- House Committee Meetings (example)
- Congressional Program Ahead (example)
- Résumé of Congressional Activity (example)
Senate business conducted in the Senate chamber and committees. These headings may be present within the Senate section:
- Prayer (example)
- Pledge of allegiance (example)
- Morning business (example)
- Introduction of bills and joint resolutions (example)
- Amendments submitted and proposed (example)
- Texts of amendments (example)
- Vote Explanation (example)
- Executive and Other Communications (example)
- Petitions and Memorials (example)
- Presidential message (example)
- Additional Statements (example)
- Nominations (example)
- Messages from the House (example)
House business conducted in the House chamber and committees. These headings may be present within the House section:
- Prayer (example)
- Pledge of allegiance (example)
- Morning business (example)
- Additional Sponsors (example)
- Constitutional Authority Statement for... (example)
- Memorials (example)
- Petitions, Etc. (example)
- Executive Communications (example)
- Bills and Joint Resolutions Presented to the President (example)
- Joint Meeting to Hear an Address by... (example)
- Adjournment (example)
Extensions of Remarks used only by House of Representative members to publish additional statements not actually delivered on the House floor.
Congressional Record Citations
Daily edition - Four distinct sections and page number series are within each daily issue. Page numbers are preceded by single letters designating the section, and require a volume number or date to be unique:
- S for Senate (e.g., Volume 162, Issue No. 7, January 12, 2016, S45-S46)
- H for House (e.g., Volume 161, Issue No. 9, January 20, 2015, H419-H424 Example is the president's State of the Union Address.)
- E for Extensions of Remarks (e.g., Volume 158, Issue No. 154, December 4, 2012, E1875)
- D for Daily Digest (e.g., Volume 154, Issue No. 65, April 23, 2008, D421-D482 Example is an announcement that Richard Gere is testifying at a committee hearing.)
Bound edition - After the end of each year, a permanent final version, referred to as the Congressional Record 'bound edition', is prepared by GPO. In the bound edition, the pagination is continuous, and there is some editing and rearrangement of texts.
Citations for daily edition issues differ from citations to the bound edition. Compare citations from both editions that have this title CONFERENCE REPORT ON HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 83, CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002:
- Daily edition: Volume 147, Issue No. 59, May 3, 2001, pages H1864-H1911
- Bound edition: Volume 147, Issue No. 59, May 3, 2001, pages 7086-7133
Most web-accessible CRs are the daily edition. Three years (1999-2001) of the bound edition are available from FDsys.
History of the Congressional Record
The CR has been published by the GPO since 1873. Before 1873, records of congressional proceedings were kept under various titles: Annals of Congress, Register of Debates and Congressional Globe. Reporters of Debate and the Congressional Record provides narrative history.
Senate.gov features a digital library of Résumés of Congressional Activity dating from 1947.
Century of Lawmaking provides full-text access to the "permanent edition" of the CR, and its previous titles, from 1789-1875 (1st through the 43rd Congresses).
Print format documents on various media (paper, microfiche, etc.) may be available at a federal depository library.
Research Guides and Related Resources
Find more information about the Congressional Record from:
In Custodia Legis - Debates of Congress: A Beginner's Guide
Law Librarians' Society
- An Overview of the Congressional Record and Its Predecessor Publications (external link)
- LLSDC's Legislative Source Book (external link)