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Federal Legislative History

This research guide provides assistance to UCLA School of Law students tracing the legislative history of a federal statute.

What are Bills?

bill is drafted and introduced in one chamber of Congress by a legislator; it is assigned a bill number, and referred to a committee.  House bills are usually abbreviated “H.R. 2315”; Senate bills, “S. 425.”  The bill may be amended at any stage of the legislative process an unlimited number of times.  Changes in bill language as the bill is amended may be useful for inferring legislative intent, since they imply legislative choices.  If a bill has not yet been enacted into law by the end of the two-year session, it is dropped.

ProQuest Congressional for Bills

Generally, the most comprehensive sources for bills is ProQuest Congressional:

Free Websites for Bills

If you are not a current UCLA student, faculty, or staff member, and cannot come to the UCLA campus to access ProQuest Congressional from the UCLA wireless or library computers, you can access PDFs and text of some bills for free online:

Lexis and Westlaw for Bills

Both Lexis and Westlaw provide access to bills. If you have a citation to a specific bill, it's generally better to access it on ProQuest Congressional or the free websites, which are more comprehensive and provide PDFs. However, if you'd like to search for bills by keyword, Lexis and Westlaw do allow you to perform more sophisticated keyword and terms and connectors searching. 

Microform Copies of Bills

Finally, the UCLA Law Library also owns microform copies of bills: