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Congress, Legislation, etc.: Legislative Research

describes Library holdings and major internet sources dealing with the operations of Congress, legislation, and regulation at the federal level

On this page

Guides to the Legislative Process

Congress.gov has many features that make tracking legislation easier than it used to be. For example, you can tell at a glance where a bill is in the legislative process by looking at the tracker under each entry:

bill tracker

Here are some guides with more information about the legislative process. Remember that references to onsite resources apply to the libraries where these guides were created; we may not have the same material in our Library.

Guides to Legislative Research

US CapitolRemember that references to onsite resources apply to the libraries where these guides were created; we may not have the same material in our Library.

Other sources

Congressional Timeline

The Dirksen Center's Congressional Timeline provides information about each Congress back to 1933 (73rd Congress). The Timeline shows the major legislation passed, the Congressional leadership, and other information for each Congress. As the Center expands the site there will be accompanying collections of photos and documents, as well as video and audio, for more of the selections.

In the Library

There are some general guides to legislative research in the Blume and Law Libraries, as well as a great many specialized guides for particular areas of the law (most of these are in the Law Library). The holdings of both libraries are searchable in the Online Catalog. Choose "Subject Keyword" and search on "legislation" and "research" in addition to a subject term.

Legislative Histories in Congressional Universe. This feature is one of the most valuable provided by this database. Note that this database is available for on-campus use AT THE LAW LIBRARY ONLY.


Here are some reference books offering help with legislative research, which you can find on the 1st floor:

  • Guide to Congress.  REF JK 1021 .C565 [year].  Especially, the chapter entitled "The Legislative Process." 
  • Congressional Quarterly Almanac. REF JK 1 .C66. 1960-2000. Annual review of Congressional activity. Later information is online through for St. Mary's students only CQ Political Reference Suite
  • Major Acts of Congress. REF KF154.M35 2004. Alphbetical encyclopedia of major laws.