A User's Guide to the Congressional Record

A User’s Guide to the Congressional Record
Mildred Amer
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
The Congressional Record is a substantially verbatim account of remarks made
during the proceedings of the House and Senate, subject only to technical, grammatical,
and typographical corrections. It consists of four main sections: the proceedings of the
House and Senate, the Extensions of Remarks, and the Daily Digest. This report is one
of a series on the legislative process. For more information on the legislative process,
please see [http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml].
The daily Record sections are numbered separately and consecutively in each session
of Congress. The pages of the House proceedings are preceded by an “H,” those of the
Senate with an “S,” those of the Extensions of Remarks section with an “E,”and the Daily
Digest with a “D.” The placement of Senate and House proceedings are usually alternated
in the consecutive issues of the Record. There are no letter designations in the final,
hardbound versions of the Record.
The Daily Digest is the key to use of the daily Record. It is the last section in each
edition of the daily Record and serves as an index. By reading the Digest first, a reader
can locate the times of meetings of both houses; measures reported, considered, or signed
into law; and information on the previous and current days’ committee activities and
schedules. At the beginning of each month, a resume of congressional activity is
published. It contains cumulative, statistical information on the congressional session.
Senators and Representatives may have remarks and other extraneous material, not
necessarily pertaining to legislation, printed in the Record without ever speaking or
reading the text on the floor. In the House, Members may also revise their remarks by
asking permission of the presiding officer to “revise and extend” (i.e., expand their
statements). However, these remarks as well as any other undelivered speeches and
insertions are distinguishable by a different type style.
The Extensions of Remarks portion of the Record, located after the House and
Senate proceedings, but before the Daily Digest, contains the bulk of House undelivered
remarks and other insertions, such as constituent tributes. On the back page of each daily
Record is found a list of the Members who have remarks in the “Extensions” section.

The initial pages of the House and Senate proceedings contain an opening prayer and
designations of the presiding officers. Then, typically, the House will turn to “one
minute” speeches and the Senate to “morning business,” during which Members have the
opportunity to speak on current events or other matters. Debate on bills and resolutions
usually follows. Unanimous consent agreements, if any, are printed in the Senate
proceedings; they guide when or how a measure will be considered. Rollcall or voice
votes on amendments, passage, or tabling of measures are shown in the Record. For a
rollcall vote, a list is printed indicating how Members voted. Information on the status
of amendments adopted or rejected is easily obtained in the Daily Digest.
In the Senate, a bullet symbol (!) precedes and distinguishes undelivered remarks.
Inserted Senate statements unrelated to pending business are usually printed near the end
of Senate proceedings under the heading “Additional Statements.” In the House
proceedings, any portion of a statement not spoken is printed in different type style. In
the Senate, with unanimous consent, undelivered remarks are printed as if spoken.
The Senate and House portions of the Record list measures reported out of their
committees, and thus, ready for floor consideration. Also, in Senate proceedings, is
report and vote information on treaties and nominations from the Senate’s Executive
Calendar. Printed separately in the Record portion for each house is a list of measures
introduced, including original sponsors and the committees to which they were referred.
Texts of Senate bills are printed upon request within the Senate proceedings, with the
sponsor often giving a statement of introduction. The list of introduced House measures
is printed at the end of its proceedings. Texts of House measures are rarely printed, and
there are usually no statements of introduction.
Also published in the proceedings of each house are appointees to conference
committees; messages from the House and Senate to each other; presidential messages;
and petitions and memorials (i.e., messages from state and local governments calling for
actions by Congress). The Senate prints the names of Members filing cloture motions,
votes on such motions, notices of hearings, and requests for committees to meet beyond
the ending time established in its rules.
Found in the last portion of the Senate proceedings are the announcements of the
time and business for the next meeting as well as a list of any executive nominations. The
last pages of the House proceedings usually include the granting of special orders and
permission to submit Extensions of Remarks, the announcement of the costs of Record
insertions exceeding two pages, statements on the time and agenda of the next House
session, and the list of House measures introduced.
At the back of the Record, following the Extensions of Remarks, when space
permits, are published the names and office numbers of each Member, committee rosters,
officers of the House and Senate, and judges on the federal courts. The “Laws and Rules
for Publishing the Congressional Record” are also often found on the back pages of the
Indices to the Record are published periodically during a session of Congress and can
also be found online with the full text of the Record at [http://www.congress.gov]. For
more information, consult CRS Report 98-266, Congressional Record: Its Production,
Distribution, and Accessibility.