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Government Information

Federal Slip Laws

The first official publication of a statute is in the form generally known as the "slip law."

The Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration, prepares the slip laws and provides marginal editorial notes giving citations to laws mentioned in the text and other explanatory details.

The marginal notes also give the United States Code classifications, enabling the reader immediately to determine where the statute will appear in the Code. Each slip law also includes an informative guide to the legislative history of the law consisting of the committee report number, the name of the committee in each House, as well as the date of consideration and passage in each House, with a reference to the Congressional Record by volume, year, and date.

A reference to presidential statements relating to the approval of a bill, or the veto of a bill when the veto was overridden and the bill becomes law, is included in the legislative history as a citation to the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents.

Federal Session Laws

At the end of a congressional session, the slip laws from that Congress are compiled, in chronological order, into bound volumes called the United States Statutes at Large, and referred to as session laws. 

The Statutes at Large is the official source, published by the GPO under the guidance of the Office of the Federal Register, for the laws and resolutions passed by Congress.

Use HeinOnline (access limited to SU students, faculty and staff) to search or browse public laws by volume, popular name, public law number, Indian treaties, and other treaties. Use FDsys to browse freely accessible versions of Statues arranged by Congress session.

Federal Legislative History

A federal legislative history is an analysis of the various Congressional documents that are generated in connection with the enactment of a law. Legislative histories are usually prepared to better understand why Congress passed a particular piece of legislation or to clarify the meaning or intent of a statutory provision that is not apparent on its face. 

The documents that make up a legislative history can also be useful sources of topical information that is not readily available elsewhere. In researching a federal legislative history, materials such as bills, committee hearings, committee reports, congressional debate and other documents (e.g. committee prints or presidential messages) can provide insight into the legislative intent of a particular law.

Use HeinOnline to browse by publication title, public law number, or popular name (access limited to SU students, faculty, and staff).