The Congressional Record and Predecessor Publications

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings, debates, and activities of Congress. Although the Record contains a substantially verbatim account of the proceedings and debate, it also contains extensive inserted materials, communications from the President and executive agencies, memorials, and petitions.

Daily and Bound Editions

There are two editions of the Record, a daily one and a bound, permanent one. The daily edition reports each day’s proceedings in Congress and is published on the succeeding day. Periodically, throughout a session, an index to the daily Record is published. At the end of each session of Congress, all of the daily editions are collected, re-paginated, and re-indexed into a permanent, bound edition. The bound edition usually takes several years to be published after a Congressional session ends. The bound edition is made up of one volume per session of Congress, with each volume published in multiple parts. The primary ways in which the bound edition differs from the daily edition are:

  • continuous pagination;
  • somewhat edited, revised and rearranged text; and
  • the dropping of the prefixes H, S, and E before page numbers

Due to the repagination process, a citation in the daily Record does not work with the bound Record, nor does the reverse work.

To Access the Congressional Record:

Publication History

Publication of the Congressional Record began in 1873, but it was not the first printed record of congressional debate, proceedings, and activities. In 1824 (18th Congress, 2nd session), Gales and Seaton, a private firm, began publishing the Register of Debates, which summarized debates considered important by the editors. This publication continued through 1837 (25th Congress, 1st session). In 1834, Gales and Seaton began to publish the Annals of Congress, which retrospectively covered the First Congress through the 18th Congress, 1st session (1789-1824). In 1833, Blair and Rives, another private firm, initiated publication of the Congressional Globe, which began as a weekly report summarizing congressional debate, proceedings, and activities, and later moved closer to a substantially verbatim account. Beginning in 1863, annual appropriations for the Congressional Globe were authorized and publication continued through the end of the 42d Congress in 1873, when Congress decided that going forward the Government Printing Office should be responsible for publishing the official record of Congress.

Organization

The bound Congressional Record currently consists of four sections:

  • House Proceedings
  • Senate Proceedings
  • Extensions of Remarks
  • the Daily Digest (since 1947)

The Proceedings and Extensions of Remarks for each day are bound in chronological sequence, with Extensions of Remarks following the Proceedings for each Chamber. The final volumes of the bound Record of each session are one or more index volumes containing a history of bills and a single volume contain all Daily Digest content for the session.

Although the proceedings are substantially verbatim, Members of Congress are permitted to revise their remarks prior to publication.

Until 1968 (90th Congress, 2nd session), the Extension of Remarks section was referred to as The Appendix. The Extension of Remarks section includes speeches, tributes, articles, and additional remarks of Members of the House. The Extension of Remarks section is used almost exclusively by Members of the House, who are also permitted to insert undelivered remarks into the House proceedings section under the "leave to print" privilege; these additional remarks are distinguished by a change in typeface. Members of the Senate traditionally use unanimous request procedures to insert documents or additional remarks into the Record. Since 1978, a bullet symbol has been used to distinguish undelivered Senate remarks from the actual proceedings. The Extension of Remarks sections are bound after the proceedings, while the Appendix was bound as a separate section or volume.

The history of the Appendix and Extension of Remarks may be summarized as follows:

  • 1873-1919 (43rd-65th Congress): separate section following proceedings; separate pagination; independent index
  • 1919-1922 (66th Congress-67th Congress, 2nd session): separate section following proceedings; consecutive pagination with proceedings; no separate index
  • 1923-1936 (67th Congress, 3rd session-74th Congress): no appendix
  • 1937-1953 (75th Congress, 1st session-83rd Congress): one or more separate appendix volumes; independent pagination (from 77th Congress forward, page numbers preceded by letter "A"); no separate index
  • 1954-1966 (83rd Congress, 2nd session-89th Congress): no appendix (appendix in daily edition only); "germane" selections from daily edition appendix included as an Extension of Remarks section following the proceedings and with consecutive pagination; both "germane" and "non-germane" portions of the daily Appendix are indexed. (Note that the Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection does not include the non-germane materials since they are not part of the bound, permanent edition)
  • 1967 (90th Congress, 1st session): separately numbered Appendix compiling daily Extension of Remarks
  • 1968-present (90th Congress, 2nd session-present): Extension of Remarks with consecutive pagination following daily proceedings; no separate index

The Daily Digest, which was first published in 1947, provides a daily summary of floor proceedings and committee and subcommittee activities. The permanent, bound edition of the Congressional Record compiles the Daily Digests of the entire session into a single volume.

Appendices in the Predecessor Publications

The appendices to the Annals of Congress include an appendix for each Congress containing public laws and some reports from the executive department reports. The appendices to the Register of Debates include presidential messages, public laws, and selected executive department and congressional committee reports. The appendices to the Globe include presidential messages, certain executive department reports, and the text of public laws, but not congressional committee reports.

Indexing

Currently, a biweekly subject index to the daily Congressional Record is published periodically. This biweekly index is later cumulated into a bound volume index covering an entire congressional session, which since 1941 generally corresponds to one calendar year. Citations in this index are to pages in the bound edition, not the daily one. The index to the permanent, bound edition of the Congressional Record is organized alphabetically by subject or name. Prior to 1983 (volume 129), dates were not included in the index. The index covers the Extension of Remarks section, but did not always cover the Appendix. The index is usually not issued until five or six years after the end of a congressional session.

A separate History of Bills and Resolutions section provides Record page number references for all House and Senate bills and resolutions.

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