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Introduction to Search

You can search Congress.gov using the search bar, a collection-specific search form, 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 search bar, 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 to the left of the search entry box. Options include:

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

About pages explain the contents of each collection. Coverage Dates for Congress.gov Collections 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 search bar 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 search bar and the advanced search command line. Search tools lists fields by collection and includes examples.

Search forms provide 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 search form results. Click on Show Filters to display. To learn more about specific filters available in Congress.gov, see Refining Search Results with Filters.

Using Search Forms

Collection-specific search forms can be accessed by selecting MORE OPTIONS underneath the searchbar. Select a collection from the list on the left. Enter words and phrases in the search box at the top of the form, where the searchbar appears when the form is closed. Select or enter other search criteria then click the blue Search button on the lower right.

From search results, select EDIT THIS SEARCH, not your browser's Back function, to open the correct search form and modify your search criteria.

To start a new search, click the Reset button next to the Search button on the lower right. Reset clears selections and entries from the search form but does not remove the results of your previous search. Search results are replaced when you execute your new search.

Note: Clicking on the Congress.gov logo at the top of the page will take you to the Congress.gov homepage, but will not reset any search forms.