Publications of Congressional Committees: A Summary

Publications of Congressional Committees:
A Summary
Matthew E. Glassman
Analyst on the Congress
Government and Finance Division
House and Senate committees publish a variety of documents dealing with legislative
and other policy issues, investigations, and internal committee matters. These include
committee hearings; legislative, investigative, conference committee, and committee
activity reports; calendars; and committee prints. These publications are usually available
from the issuing committee, the House or Senate document rooms, and increasingly, from
committee websites as well. For more information on legislative process, see
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Hearings. Printed hearings contain the edited transcripts of testimony given during
committee consideration of proposed legislation, investigative or oversight activities, or
Senate confirmation proceedings. Also included are questions from committee members
and responses by witnesses; prepared statements by committee members, the witnesses,
and other interested parties; and supporting documents submitted to the committee.
Although hearings are often not printed for months after testimony is given, witness
statements, and sometimes Member questions and answers, may appear on a committee’s
website within days. Senate Rule XVII, paragraph 5 provides that, if hearings have been
held on a measure, the “committee reporting the measure or matter shall make every
reasonable effort” to make printed hearings available prior to floor consideration. House
Rule XIII, clause 4(c) stipulates that a general appropriation bill reported by the
Committee on Appropriations may not be considered unless printed hearings have been
available to members for three calendar days.
Reports. There are four main types of committee reports: (1) reports that
accompany a legislative measure when it is reported for chamber action; (2) reports
resulting from oversight or investigative activities; (3) reports of conference committees;
and (4) committee activity reports, published at the conclusion of a Congress.
Legislative reports provide an explanation of a measure, the committee’s actions in
considering it, and arguments why the House or Senate should approve the committee’s
position on the bill or legislative matter, as reported. House Rule XIII, clause 2(a)
requires a committee to prepare a printed report when forwarding a measure for floor
action. Most Senate bills sent to the floor are accompanied by a written report, although
Senate rules do not require it. Chamber and committee rules require certain provisions

in committee reports. For example, both the House and the Senate require committees to
allow for minority, supplemental, or additional views of committee members to be
included in legislative or investigative reports. Chamber rules also impose certain other
content requirements for committee reports. (See CRS Report 98-169, House Committee
Reports: Required Contents, by Judy Schneider, and CRS Report 98-305, Senate
Committee Reports: Required Contents, by Elizabeth Rybicki).
An oversight or investigative report describes a committee’s effort to evaluate federal
agency and program performance, and inform Congress and the public of alleged
governmental waste, inefficiency, or public or private wrongdoing. Committees have
broad latitude in deciding the contents and structure of these reports.
The report of a conference committee states in legislative language how the House
and Senate propose to resolve the differences between each chamber’s version of a
measure. The report is accompanied by a joint explanatory statement that describes the
reconciliation of differences in nonstatutory language. Under Senate Rule XXVIII,
paragraph 4, conference reports are required to be printed as Senate reports. When a
conference report has already been printed by the House, however, the Senate routinely
dispenses with this requirement.
Activity reports published after the conclusion of a Congress provide a narrative
description of a committee’s actions over the course of that Congress. These reports may
include summaries of legislation, investigations, hearings, and oversight activities, and
the titles of documents issued by the committee. Committee activity reports are mandated
by the 1970 Legislative Reorganization Act and subsequent chamber rules.
Committee Calendars. Committee calendars are a comprehensive record of a
committee’s actions in summary or tabular format. They typically include: committee
rules, membership, and subcommittees; a brief legislative history of each measure referred
to the committee; lists of hearings, business meetings and markups, and conference
reports; legislation indexed by sponsor and short title; and lists of other committee
All House and Senate committees except for the ethics and Appropriationsrd
committees in each chamber (and, since the 103 Congress, the House Administration
Committee) publish calendars. Although neither statutes nor chamber rules require the
publication of committee calendars, the practice has been common for more than 50 years.
Most committees publish their calendars at the conclusion of each session. The
information is cumulative so that the final calendar for each Congress identifies all
activities of a committee. Final committee calendars are often not available in printed
form for several months after the conclusion of a Congress.
Committee Prints. Committees also publish a variety of other information as
“committee prints.” These documents may include committee rules, full committee and
subcommittee memberships, draft legislation, and reports on policy issues and other
matters deemed of interest to a committee. At the discretion of each committee, some
prints are numbered; others are not.