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U.S. Government Documents: Reference Sources & Databases

Created by Fred Muratori

Reference Sources, Online and Print

The titles preceded by  are resources that contain information on the history, functions, and procedures of the U.S. Congress. The letters 'CQ' stand for Congressional Quarterly, a privately owned publishing company that began in 1945 to report on the activities of Congress. As of 2013 it is owned by the Economist Group.


Congressional Publications (ProQuest).
Serves as both an index and a full text source of US Congressional materials: members and committees, bills, laws, hearing transcripts, committee prints, documents, the Congressional Record, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, US Code. Updated daily. Produced by Congressional Information Service, a major publisher of government documents related reference sources, including (in print) the CIS Index to publications of the United States Congress (1970 - )[OLIN REF Z 1223 A2 C739+] and "historical" volumes and series covering the publications of Congress from 1789 to 1970.

CQ Electronic Library.
Includes the CQ Researcher, CQ Weekly, CQ Almanac, CQ Public Affairs Collection, CQ Voting and Elections Collection, CQ Congress Collection and the CQ Encyclopedia of American Government. Includes increased "All CQEL Search" functionality to search across subscribed collections.

CQ Guide to Congress. 7th ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly. Print copy (5th ed.): Olin Ref JK1021 C74 2000
"The core of the book is contained in the first three sections: history; powers; and procedures of the institution. These are followed by more detailed examination of related subjects such as pressures on Congress; pay, housing, qualifications, and ethics of members; and how Congress is elected." [preface] The Appendix offers a Glossary of Congressional Terms and additional facts and figures on a variety of topics, e.g., The Longest Sessions of Congress; Lame Duck Sessions since 1945; Attempted and Successful Cloture Votes, 1919-1998; the Capitol Floor Plan, and many more.

CQ Researcher. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1991-. (online from 1991; in paper from 1930-2003 in Olin stacks H35 E23)
CQ Researcher provides articles on current and controversial world issues. "Every 12,000-word report is written by an experienced journalist and features comments from experts, lawmakers and citizens on all sides of every issue. Numerous charts, graphs and sidebar articles -- plus a pro-con feature, a chronology, lengthy bibliographies and a list of contacts -- round out each report." (About page)

CQ Weekly. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1946 - .(online from Oct. 1983 - date; print version 1946- April 2009 in Olin stacks JK1 C661+)
Provides news summaries of congressional legislation, commission reports, presidential talks and appointments, and even information about birth dates, religious affiliation and occupation of senators and representatives. One of the best and most current of all publications dealing with government action. Covers Congress in depth, but also includes information on the executive and judicial branches of government. Quarterly indexes cumulate annually and provide access by subject. There are also special indexes for: Lobby registrations, Presidential texts, Committee roll call votes, etc.

GovTrack.us
"...brings together the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records for the Senate and House of Representatives, information on Members of Congress, congressional district maps, and more. Most of the information is assembled in an automated way by scanning federal government websites, such as THOMAS." Includes legislative histories, voting records, etc.

Legistorm
"A database of congressional staff salaries..., all privately financed trips taken by members of Congress and congressional staffers, ...the latest happenings on the House and Senate floors, and upcoming floor debates and committee hearings. Includes an array of the latest reports of relevance to Congress, including Congressional Budget Office cost estimates, Statements of Administration Policy, presidential Executive Orders and Government Accountability Office reports." (web site)

National Journal
Online version of the weekly news journal covering Congress, the White House, and national policy issues.

Oleszek, Walter. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process. 8th ed. 2011. Olin Ref KF4937 O44 2011
An examination of how Congress makes laws and how its rules and procedures shape public policy. Describes the making of a law from introduction to final passage. Older editions in stacks.

Thomas--Legislative Information on the Internet
Provides free access to a wide range of legislative information on the Congress, including the full text of the Congressional Record and bills for the 103rd to the present Congress, a directory of congressional committees and members of Congress, the weekly floor schedule for the House, and a schedule of daily committee hearings. Includes text of How Our Laws are Madeby Edward F. Willett Jr.

United States. Congress. House of Representatives. Calendar of the United States House of Representatives and History of Legislation. Washington: Government Printing Office. Daily. Olin Ref J 47 A3+
Senate and House calendars from the 104th Congress (1995-6) to date covered onlinePrint version covers 83rd (1953-4) onward. "The Calendar is very useful for following day-to day progress of legislation through both Houses of Congress; index, usually on Mondays; final edition covers the session and a cumulated final edition at the end of the Congress. It includes lists of bills in and through conference, the various calendars of business, and a numerical list of bills and resolutions of both House and Senate with their legislative history." (The description above was taken from the National Archives http://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/admin-history/laws-and-treaties.html)

United States. Congress. Senate. Library. Presidential Vetoes: 1789-1988 and Supplement 1989- 2000. Olin Ref, J 80 A8 1789-88; J 80 A8 Suppl. 1989/00
"The purpose of this publication is to provide a comprehensive listing of the Presidential vetoes of legislation enacted by the Congress....It is also intended as an aid in the study of the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of the United States Government and of its system of checks and balances." [preface] See also: CRS report: Presidential Vetoes: 1789 - present (2004): A Summary Overview.

U.S Congressional Serial Set (Readex)
Database of texts from the bound, sequentially numbered volumes of all the reports, documents, and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Texts constitute a rich source of primary source material on all aspects of American history. Coverage 1817 - 1980 (when complete).


See also the U.S. Congress section of the Library's subject guide to Government.