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Federal Legislative History: Hearings

About Hearings

Congressional committees hold hearings, which are usually open to the public, to gather expert opinions and background information regarding legislation.  Committees may choose to publish records of the hearings.  The official hearing records, printed by the Government Printing Office (GPO) from two months to two years after the hearings, may contain witnesses’ oral and written testimonies, including the question-and-answer sessions, and materials submitted by interested parties or committee members.  The materials added to the record may be contained in an appendix.  In 1983 (98th Congress), the Senate adopted a numbering system that it uses today, but the House still does not have one.

The entire record, including the appendix, may provide insight into the reasons for the legislation or offer some indication of its intended application.  However, the views contained in the testimonies and statements are the views of the witnesses, not members of Congress, and those witnesses may be biased.

Find Hearings

Subscription Databases

ProQuest Congressional: Selected, 18th Congress (1824) to present

ProQuest Legislative Insight: Selected, 71st Congress (1929) to present; access Legislative Insight via the law library landing page.

HeinOnline: U.S. Congressional Documents Collection, selected, 71st Congress (1927) to 103rd Congress (1994)

Lexis: 104th Congress (1995) to present

Westlaw:  Selected, 103rd Congress (1993) to present

Internet  Selected, 99th Congress (1985) to present

Law Library of Congress: Selected hearings on privacy/freedom of information, immigration and the census


  • CIS Microfiche (KF25.A2):  91st Congress (1969) to present; ask a reference librarian for assistance with the CIS classification system
  • Senate Hearings (KF26):  99th Congress (1985) to 104th Congress (1995)
  • House Hearings (KF27):  99th Congress (1985) to 104th Congress (1995)