Skip to Main Content
site header image

Legislative History Research: Debates

What are Debates?

After a bill leaves committee, it is debated on the chamber's floor. Debates are good for legislative history because representatives directly state their opinions about the bill.

Debates are printed in the Congressional Record, which is published in two formats: a daily edition and a permanent bound edition. Page numbers do not correspond between the two editions. Use the Congressional Record Index to locate the debate. You can also find an index on GovInfo's History of Bills.


Use Bluebook Rule 13.5 to cite Debates.

Subscription Resources

Password-protected, access provided by the Law Library to current members of the Law School community:

HeinOnline - Publishes the Congressional Record daily. Also includes Annals of the Congress of the United States (1789-1824), Register of Debates in Congress (1824-1837), and the Congressional Globe (1833-1873).

Lexis includes the Congressional Record (1989-present) and Congressional Record Retro (1973-1997)

ProQuest Legislative Insight - covers Public Laws from 1929 to the present, along with related bills, hearings, Congressional Research Service reports, committee prints, committee reports, Congressional Record sections, and Presidential Signing Statements.

Westlaw includes the Congressional Record from 1985.

Free Resources

American Memory: A Century of Lawmaking - from the Library of Congress. Includes the predecessors to the Congressional Record: the Congressional Globe, the Annals of Congress, and Register of Debates. publishes the daily edition.

GovInfo has the Congressional Record from 1944-Present, both the bound edition and the daily edition from 1989.