1. Bills introduced in every Congress are given sequential numbers, e.g., H.R. 1, H.R. 2, S. 1, S. 2, etc.
2. It is also important to know the number of the Congress, e.g., 117th. See Dates of Sessions of the US Congress. The session of congress is often included in the bill number (e.g. 117 H.R. 110)
3. Once a bill becomes law, it gets a public law number in its first printing as a slip law. The public law number has two parts-the first part is the number of the Congress, and the second part indicates it was the nth law passed by that Congress, e.g., Public Law 111-148. Public law is often abbreviated PL in citations.
4. The public law is also cited to the Statutes at Large, a second printing of the slip laws, arranged chronologically in bound volumes. A Statutes at Large citation , e.g., 120 Stat. 648, includes the volume and page number on which a law can be found.
5. The public law finally becomes part of the United States Code. This is arranged by subject, so provisions in the public law can be codified in several different titles (subjects.)
The Timeline of Printing a Federal Law
Committee reports are analyses and recommendations regarding legislation, and are very useful for ascertaining the purpose or intent of a bill. When the House and Senate cannot reconcile their different versions of a bill, a committee with members from both houses works out a compromise and issues a conference committee report.
"A hearing is a meeting or session of a Senate, House, joint, or special committee of Congress, usually open to the public, to obtain information and opinions on proposed legislation, conduct an investigation, or evaluate/oversee the activities of a government department or the implementation of a Federal law. In addition, hearings may also be purely exploratory in nature, providing testimony and data about topics of current interest. Most congressional hearings are published two months to two years after they are held." (GPO). The Government Printing Office prints the official, complete version, and not all hearings are published.
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