Introduction to Search

You can search Congress.gov using the search box available on most pages (main search), a collection-specific quick search, or advanced search. Advanced search gives you the option of using a form optimized for legislation, a query builder for customized searches, or a command line entry box for using SOLR query syntax.

What Is Searched

From the main search, legislation from the current Congress is searched by default. Legislation includes summary and status information (metadata) and full text for bills, resolutions, and amendments. To change the scope of your search by source (also known as collection), choose one from the selection list next to the search entry box. Options include:

  • Current Legislation
  • All Legislation
  • All Sources
  • Members (profiles)
  • Congressional Record
  • Committee Reports
  • Nominations
  • Treaty Documents
  • Executive Communications (Senate)

About pages explain the contents of each collection. Coverage dates identifies years and Congresses included in each collection and notes the usual schedule for daily updates.

Searching by Number

Bill, resolution and amendment numbers include an alphabetical prefix and a number. Committee reports include an alphabetical prefix, Congress number and report number. Public laws include an alphabetical prefix, Congress number and law number.

To search, enter the prefix and number with or without spaces and periods, and in upper or lowercase. From the main search use the field label cite: to eliminate hits on related bills or bill numbers in summaries. For example, cite:"hr933".

See Search by Number (Citation) for a complete list of acceptable formats and examples.

Search Operators

Search operators must be entered in uppercase.

A space between two words defaults to the AND operator.

Use OR between search terms to retrieve results containing at least one of the terms.

Use AND between search terms to retrieve results containing both terms.

Use NOT before a search term to retrieve results that do not contain that term. You can substitute a minus sign (-) for NOT.
Note: Use with caution as it is easy to eliminate relevant results unintentionally.

Use the required operator (+) before a search term to retrieve results that contain that term.

Use the proximity operator (~) to find two or more words within a specified distance of each other. Enter your search terms enclosed in quotation marks, followed by ~ and a number, to indicate how near your search terms should be to each other. For example, "John Kennedy"~3
Note: The proximity operator does not specify order.

Use ? in the middle or at the end of a word to indicate a single character 'wildcard'. Finds results that include the search term with a single character variant.

Use * in the middle or end of a word to indicate a multiple character 'wildcard'. Finds results that include the search term with zero or more character variants.

See Search Operators for examples.

Using Fields in Your Search Query

Use a field label to control where your search term or phrase is found. For example, to retrieve legislation with the word 'snap' in the title, type title:snap in the search box.

Field searching is available from the main search, words and phrases box on quick and advanced search forms, all fields option on the query builder, and the advanced search command line. Search tools lists fields by collection and includes examples.

Quick search provides selection lists for searching sponsors, cosponsors, committees and actions.

For instructions on using fields, operators, and citations, see Search Tools.

Using Filters

Filters provide a way to narrow, or reduce, your set of search results by selecting additional search criteria from among those available in your initial result set. Filters are hidden by default on quick search results. Click on Show Filters to display. To learn more about specific filters available in Congress.gov, see Refining Search Results with Filters.