Federal legislative history can provide information about legislative intent and clarify terms in a federal statute. Here is how to locate it.
Legislative history is found in the collection of documents created during the legislative process. This chart provides a detailed overview of the path a piece of proposed legislation must travel in order to become a law.
Practice note: few bills make it through this labyrinth. Only about 5% of proposed bills become law. Each committee and stage of the process represents an opportunity for a bill to die.
As a researcher, you want to find documents that are produced during the legislative process. The most prominent are:
(Note: you may not find all of these items for each enacted statute.)
The first question to ask yourself: Has someone done the work for you? Many legislative histories have been compiled, so if you need a legislative history for a major statute, look first to see if you can find a complete one before assembling one yourself.