Congressional Record: Its Production, Distribution, and Accessibility

Congressional Record: Its Production,
Distribution, and Accessibility
Mildred Amer
Specialist in American Government
Government and Finance Division
The Congressional Record is the most widely recognized published account of the
debates and activities in Congress. The Record often reflects the intent of Congress in
enacting legislation. This report is one of a series on the legislative process. Please see
[] for more information on the
legislative process.
The Constitution mandates that each house shall keep and publish a journal of its
proceedings. Accordingly, the House and Senate Journals, which are summaries of floor
proceedings, are the official accounts of congressional proceedings, but the Record is
better known and the most useful.
The Record is published daily by the Government Printing Office (GPO) when either
or both houses of Congress are in session. It is brought by GPO to the congressional post
offices for early morning delivery to congressional offices as well as the House and
Senate chambers.
Each day’s Record contains an account of the previous day’s congressional activity.
However, if a session extends past midnight, the Record is usually published in two parts
with the first part printed the following day, and action after midnight included in the next
day’s edition. Copies of the Record are also available for Representatives inside the
House chamber and for Senators on their desks in the Senate chamber. Extra copies may
be obtained from the House Document Room (B18, Ford House Office), the Senate
Library (B15, Russell Senate Office Building), and the Senate Document Room (B04,
Hart Senate Office Building).
The Record, which averages about 200 pages a day, consists of four sections: the
proceedings of the House; the proceedings of the Senate; the Extensions of Remarks,
containing matter not part of the spoken debates and proceedings; and the Daily Digest
of activity in Congress. It does not contain any text of committee proceedings.
Located at the back of the Record, the Daily Digest of activity in Congress is a key
to using a daily Record. Separately for the House and Senate, it contains summary
information on chamber action the preceding day, including measures introduced,
reported, debated, and passed, and appointments made. It also summarizes committee

activities, provides the time and location of committee and subcommittee meetings
scheduled for the day the Record is delivered, and gives the time and date of the next
convening of the House and Senate. The Daily Digest is prepared by the Daily Digest
Offices in the House and Senate (House, 5-7497, and Senate, 4-2658)
The House and Senate each have teams of official reporters of debate who are
present on the floor and responsible for taking down everything spoken and all business
transacted. In addition, they make copies available to Members and staff to refine the text
of speeches submitted for publication or words spoken in debate. The offices of the
official reporters also assist Members and staff in determining if material they wish to
insert in the Record will adhere to the two-page limit. If the material exceeds two pages,
Members are required to announce the cost to print it. All manuscripts for submission in
the Record must be returned to the official reporters of debate in a timely fashion to insure
publication the following morning. Questions regarding material placed in the Record
can be directed to the House official reporters of debate at 5-5621 or the Senate reporters
at 4-3152.
Actual signatures are required of those Members who wish to insert undelivered
remarks in the Senate section of the Record known as “Additional Statements” or in the
House portion known as “Extensions of Remarks.” These statements must be submitted
by Members or their staffs either at the dais or in the respective cloakrooms in the House
or Senate.
The Record is also available online through GPO and the Library of Congress. It can
be searched either by full text for a certain date, by Member of Congress, or by topic. The
website through GPO is []. Once at the site, the
user should click on the various options for viewing the Congressional Record, which is
available from 1994 to the present. The website at the Library of Congress is available for
the general public through THOMAS [] and for congressional staff
through the Legislative Information System []. At these sites,
there are options for searching the full text of the Record from the 101st through 110th
There are two editions of the Record, a daily one and a permanent one. Technical
and parliamentary corrections and changes in the pagination are the major differences in
these two versions of the Record. After the conclusion of each two-year Congress, GPO
publishes the multivolume permanent, hardbound editions, together with an index for that
Congress. These volumes have been published up through the 108th Congress, first
session. However, a reduction in the paper version of the permanent Record has been
mandated by Congress since so much of it is available on line.
The Joint Committee on Printing, composed of Members of the Senate Rules and
Administration and House Administration Committees, directs the printing of the Record
by GPO. The committee controls the arrangement and style of the Record. Title 44 of
the U.S. Code contains laws relating to the publication and distribution of the Record.
Questions on Congressional Record policy should be directed to the Joint Committee on
Printing at 4-6352. Since this committee does not have legislative authority, any
resolution affecting policy would be considered by the House Administration Committee
or Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

For more specific information on using the Record, consult CRS Report 98-265, A
Users Guide to the Congressional Record.