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Federal Legislative History Research: Debates

This guide will outline the resources available at the University of Missouri School of Law for federal legislative history research.

What is a Debate?

Legislative Debates & Proceedings are statements made and/or actions taken in a chamber of Congress. Floor debates may occur at any time on a bill and they are recorded in the daily publication, Congressional Record.  

Legislative debates may include statements by a bill’s sponsors or the chairs of the committees considering the bills, which are given more weight than comments by Representatives or Senators not involved with the specific bill.  However, statements may be contradictory (making it difficult to infer the intent) and can be altered prior to publication. 

How to Cite a Debate

Bluebook Rule 13.5

"Cite congressional debates after 1873 to the Congressional Record; use the daily edition only for matter not yet appearing in the permanent edition. The primary ways in which the Congressional Record differs from the daily edition are continuous pagination, altered text, and the dropping of the prefixes H, S, and E before page numbers:"


147 Cong. Rec. 6,8335 (2001).


Best Bet - Start Your Research Here!


Other Options

More Resources




Library of Congress American Memory

  • Annals of Congress (formally known as The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, cover the 1st Congress through the first session of the 18th Congress, from 1789 to 1824).
  • Register of Debates (18th Congress, 2nd Session through the 25th Congress, 1st Session (1824-37).
  • Congressional Globe (23rd through 42nd Congresses (1833-73)
  • Congressional Record (includes the Record from the 43rd Congress only (1873-75). The Daily Digest is not included.)

  • Congressional Record Index, (1995-present)
  • Daily Edition full text (1995-present)
  • Members Remarks in Congressional Record (2005 - present)


  • FDsys Congressional Record Daily(Daily edition from 1994)
  • FDsys Congressional Record Index (from 1983)

In the Library:

  • The Mizzou Law Library has a complete collection of the Congressional Record in print on the second floor in Government Documents.