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Federal Legislative History: Floor Debates

Overview of Floor Debates

The Congressional Record is a substantially verbatim account of remarks made during the proceedings of the House and Senate.     After a bill is reported out of committee, it is brought before the House or Senate chambers for consideration and discussion. During the debates, members argue for and against the proposed legislation, offer additional amendments to the bill, and discuss specific provisions.

The transcript of these debates is published verbatim in the Congressional Record, which is the official record of all the proceedings and debates of Congress. The Congressional Record also contains the full text of the bill itself, the text of any amendments, and the record of votes taken.


The Congressional Record is printed in two editions: the daily edition and the permanent edition. The daily edition is the daily publication of the Congressional Record when Congress is in session. The permanent edi-tion integrates all the separate issues of the daily edition and reprints them in a bound, cohesive set. Re-searchers generally use the permanent edition. The Law Library maintains volumes of both the daily and the permanent edition in microform, and the Congressional Record (CR) Index in print. Within the CR Index, a cumulative ―History of Bills and Resolutions‖ section offers a brief digest of the bill, sponsor name, committee referred to, and references to debates, reports, and passage.

Sample Title Page of Congressional Record

Sources for Congressional Debates

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