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Federal Legislative Research: Floor Debates & the Congressional Record

What is a Floor Debate?

Once a bill is reported on by its various committees, it is discussed on the floor of either the House or the Senate. This allows members of Congress to argue for or against a particular piece of legislation, suggest amendments to the legislation, or to discuss in detail particular provisions of the legislation.

A transcript of everything that occurs in Congress is published in the Congressional Record, including the floor debates. The Congressional Record is published by the Governmental Publishing Office (GPO) each day that the Congress is in session. The Congressional Record is divided into four sections: 

  • Daily Digest: Located in the back of the each day's Congressional Record, this is a summary of the daily floor and committee activities and acts as a Table of Contents to the Congressional Record. 
  • House Section: Contains proceedings from the House of Representatives
  • Senate Section: Contains proceedings from the Senate
  • Extension of Remarks: Includes statements, information that supplements statements, and tributes

Prior to 1873 the Congressional Debates were recorded in:

  • The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (1789-1824)
  • The Register of the Debates of Congress (1824-1837)
  • The Congressional Globe (1833-1873) 

These publications can be accessed at the Library of Congress's American Memory Project website, A Century of Lawmaking For a New Nation.

In the LSU Law Library

Online Sources

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