Search Tips Overview
You can search Congress.gov using the search box available on most pages or via the advanced search page. Advanced search gives you the option of using a guided search form or a command line entry box.
What Is Searched
Legislation from the current Congress, including bill summary and status information and full bill text, is searched by default. To change the scope of your search by source, choose one from the selection list next to the search entry box. Source options include Current Legislation, All Legislation, All Sources, Members (profiles), Congressional Record, Committee Reports, Nominations and Treaty Documents.
Searching by Number
Bill, resolution and amendment numbers include an alphabetical prefix and a number. To search, enter the prefix and number with or without spaces and periods, and in upper or lowercase. To eliminate hits on related bills or bill numbers in summaries, use the field label cite:. For example, cite:"hr933".
Committee reports include an alphabetical prefix, Congress number and report number.
Public laws include an alphabetical prefix, Congress number and law number.
See Search by Number (Citation) for examples.
Use quotation marks around two or more words to find words or word variants in an exact order.
Search operators must be entered in uppercase.
Use AND between search terms to retrieve results containing both terms.
Use OR between search terms to retrieve results containing at least one of the 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 many intervening words may occur between your search terms. For example, "John Kennedy"~3
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.
Use a field label to control where your search term or phrase is found in a document. For example, to retrieve legislation with the word 'snap' in the title, type title:snap in the search box. A complete list of fields is available on the advanced search command line page. The advanced search form provides a selection list of available fields.
Refining a Search
You can refine searches with facets or by using Search Within. To refine an advanced search, modify your original search by adding or deleting criteria from the search form or command line at the top of the page.
Facets 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. To learn more about specific facets available in Congress.gov, see Refining with Facets.
Using Search Within
Another way to narrow your set of search results is by searching within your results. From any quick search results page, check Search Within to the right of the search box and enter your additional search terms. All of your search terms, original and additional, will be displayed at the top of your results. You can remove any term from your search by clicking on it.
Facets and Search Within can be used together.
Navigating Search Results
The search results list provides brief information about each item. Select an item from the list to see the full content. Use your browser back button to return to the search results list, or use your browser's bookmark feature to save a direct link to your results.