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How to find copies of bills from Congress

You can read the full text of recent bills on the Web, you can order printed copies from the Senate or House Document Rooms, or you can find them in a library.  Senate bills are also usually printed in the Congressional Record.

You need a bill or public law number to check the status or request a copy of legislation.  Active Legislation is one of several resources that will help you find bill numbers.

Web Access

  • THOMAS provides the full text of bills from the 101st Congress (1989) to the present. You can do fielded searches by bill number, sponsor, word or phrase. You can also browse a sequential list of all bills and resolutions.
  • GPO Access provides the full text of bills from the 103rd Congress (1993) to the present. You can search by bill number or by subject, or you can browse a list of all bills and resolutions.

Document Rooms

Senate Document Services may be able to provide you with a copy of a bill or resolution from the current Congress. Check with them for availability.


Bills and resolutions may be available in a federal depository library. The federal depository library program is made up of over 1,300 libraries that collect government documents and make them available to the public for borrowing or reading. A list of depository libraries is available on GPO's Web site. Most depository libraries are within a university or state library, so sometimes borrowing privileges are restricted.

Congressional Record

Many Senate bills are printed in the Congressional Record, generally on the day they are introduced. Quite often, a Senator gives a statement of introduction, which is helpful in understanding the provisions of the bill. The text of House measures are rarely printed, and there are usually no statements of introduction.

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