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Government Publications: United States: Congressional reports and documents

Guide to United States government publications.

Definitions: Committee reports & congressional documents

Reports originate from congressional committees and deal with proposed legislation and other policy issues, investigations, and internal committee matters. Congressional reports may be issued by the House or Senate. Congress issues different types of reports, including:

  • Committee report: Document accompanying a measure reported from a committee. It contains an explanation of the provisions of the measure, arguments for its approval, votes held in markup, individual committee members’ opinions, cost estimates, and other information.  Reports may also result from oversight or investigative activities.
  • Conference report: The document presenting an agreement reached by a joint temporary committee (a conference committee) appointed to negotiate a compromise between the House and Senate.
  • Senate executive report: Reports of the Committee on Foreign Relations relating to Treaties between the United States and foreign nations which have been submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification, or are reports of various Senate Committees regarding nomination of individuals.

Documents contain various other materials ordered printed by both Houses of Congress. 

  • Document (House or Senate): Documents can include reports of Executive Departments and Agencies, some of which are submitted in accordance with Federal law, then later are ordered printed as Documents. Sometimes Committee Prints are ordered printed as documents, if the information they contain is in demand. Documents have a larger distribution than Committee Prints.
  • Senate treaty document (97th Congress to present): The text of a treaty as submitted to the Senate by the executive branch, as well as letters of transmittal from the President and the Secretary of State, and accompanying background documentation.
  • Senate executive document (1st Congress to 96th Congress): The text of a treaty as submitted to the Senate by the executive branch, as well as letters of transmittal from the President and the Secretary of State, and accompanying background documentation.

Committee prints include a wide variety of publications approved and issued by committees or portions of committees, such as majority or minority staff. Prints issued by only a portion of the committee are normally identified as such on the cover. A committee print can contain anything relevant to the legislative and oversight functions of Congress. The print content varies widely from committee to committee, and over the course of time the function and format have been inconsistent. Examples of committee print content include:

  • Research papers by committee staff, Congressional Research Service experts, or outside consultants
  • Committee rules and calendars
  • Compilations of laws
  • Transcripts of markup sessions or other proceedings
  • Legislative descriptions and analyses

Definitions from Glossary and U.S. Congressional Serial Set: What It Is and Its History.

U. S. Congressional Serial Set

The United States Congressional Serial Set, commonly referred to as the Serial Set, began publication with the 15th Congress, 1st Session (1817). The Serial Set contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the  Serial Set Documents before 1817 may be found in the American State Papers.

Congressional Serial Set via GovInfo

American State Papers via Library of Congress