The legislative history of a law is the sequence of steps taken to arrive at the final version of the law along with the documents reflecting that history. One of the purposes in compiling a legislative history is to try to ascertain what the legislature intended in authoring the bill, or the purpose and meaning of specific legislative language. Legislative history is evidence that members of the legislative body were aware of particular issues and facts. Lawyers and judges differ on the weight they give to legislative intent in regard to statutory interpretation. All legislative documents are only persuasive legal authority.
Committee reports are generally given the most weight in determining legislative intent, because they are produced by the committee to which Congress has delegated the responsibility for detailed study and recommendation.
Changes of language in the bill as it is amended are given high significance.
Other documents, though less valuable than reports or the variant text of bills, may shed light on the context in which legislators considered the bill in question: