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Federal Legislature

Types of Proposed Legislation

The letters H.R. designate bills introduced in the House of Representatives, while bills introduced in the Senate are designated with the letter S.

Joint Resolutions, like bills, can originate in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, but not jointly in both chambers as the name suggests. Joint Resolutions are nearly identical to bills and are often used interchangeably.

House of Representatives joint resolutions are designated as H.J. Res., while Senate joint resolutions are designated as S.J. Res.

Both bills and joint resolutions are enacted into law when one of the following occurs:

  • The President approves the legislation and signs it into law;
  • The House and Senate override a presidential veto by a two-thirds vote in each Chamber; or
  • The President fails to sign or veto the bill within 10 working days while Congress is in session. If Congress adjourns during the 10 days, the bill is automatically rejected. This is known as a pocket veto.

Concurrent Resolutions are initiated to remedy matters affecting the day to day operations of both Chambers. They are used to express fact, principles, and policies. A concurrent resolution is not sent to the President to be enacted into law. When approved by both Chambers, the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate sign them. Concurrent Resolutions appear in a special section of the Statutes at Large.

Concurrent resolutions introduced in the House of Representatives are designated by H. Con. Res., while those introduced in the Senate are designated as S. Con. Res.

Simple Resolutions are introduced when matters concerning the rules and operation of just one house need to be remedied. Simple resolutions are only considered by the Chamber in which they are introduced. Upon approval by that Chamber, they are attested to by either the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate. Simple resolutions are published in the Congressional Record.

Simple resolutions introduced in the House of Representatives are designated as H. Res., while those introduced in the Senate are designated as S. Res.

Resources for Current Proposed Legislation

Congress.gov 
Congress.gov provides a wide variety of online federal legislative information.  

  • Search Bill Text
    Coverage is from the 101st Congress (1989) to the present. 
    Information is updated daily when Congress is in session.
    Searching can be done by keyword or bill number.
  • Search Bill Summary and Status
    Coverage is from the 93rd Congress (1973) to the present.
    Information is updated every 24-48 hours.
    Searching can be done by keyword, bill number, state in legislative process, sponsor, date, or committee; bills can also be browsed.

GovInfo
The GovInfo website has bill information for the 103rd Congress (1993) to the present.  Information is updated every day that Congress is in session.  Bills can be browsed by Congress or searched by keyword.  Information is available in PDF format.

U.S. House of Representatives website
The website of the United States House of Representatives provides information on current legislative activity occurring in the House including bill status reports, floor activity, floor and committee schedules, and roll call votes.  The website also links to the Congressional Record, the Daily Digest, and to the websites of House members and House committees. 

U.S. Senate website
The website of the United States Senate provides information on current legislative activity occurring in the Senate including floor activity, recent votes, active legislation, and floor and committee schedules.  The website also links to a Senate floor webcast, the Daily Digest, and to the websites of Senate members and Senate committees.

ProQuest Congressional (on campus or remote access with ASURITE)
ProQuest Congressional provides bill information from the 101st Congress (1989) to the present session of Congress.  Information is updated daily when Congress is in session and the full-text of bills and resolutions are available. 

Westlaw - Congressional Bills (Westlaw password required)
Has the text of all available congressional bills and resolutions introduced into the current session of Congress.

Lexis - Congressional Full Text of Bills, 113th Congress to Current Congress (Lexis password required)
Contains all bills and resolutions introduced in the current Congress.

Resources for Historic Proposed Legislation

Congress.gov 
Congress.gov provides a wide variety of online federal legislative information.  

  • Search Bill Text
    Coverage is from the 101st Congress (1989) to the present. 
    Information is updated daily when Congress is in session.
    Searching can be done by keyword or bill number.
  • Search Bill Summary and Status
    Coverage is from the 93rd Congress (1973) to the present.
    Information is updated every 24-48 hours.
    Searching can be done by keyword, bill number, state in legislative process, sponsor, date, or committee; bills can also be browsed.

House and Senate Bills and Resolutions
The ASU West Library has a microfiche collection of bills and resolutions from the 96th Congress (1979) to the 106th Congress (2000). They are arranged by Congress and Session and then by type of proposal. Specific bills can be found using the print Finding Aid, House and Senate Bills.

Congressional Record
When a bill is introduced, its introduction is recorded in the Congressional Record. The Congressional Record may also contain the text of proposed legislation. The bill may have been inserted as part of the record at some point in the deliberations. However, it is important to note that not all bills and resolutions are published in the Congressional Record.

  • "History of Bills and Resolutions" section
    The history section indexes all floor action in the House and Senate for a proposed piece of legislation and provides citations to committee reports.

The Congressional Record can be accessed at:

ProQuest Congressional (on campus or remote access with ASURITE)
ProQuest Congressional provides bill information from the 101st Congress (1989) to the present session of Congress.  Information is updated daily when Congress is in session and the full-text of bills and resolutions are available. 

Westlaw - Historical Federal Bills (Westlaw password required)
Has the full text of all congressional bills and resolutions introduced in the 104th Congress (1995) to the present session of Congress.