Order Code RS21363
November 27, 2002
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Legislative Procedure in Congress:
Basic Sources for Congressional Staff
Susan Watkins Greenfield
Information Research Specialist
Information Research Division
Written for congressional staff, this report identifies and provides Web site
addresses (when available) of official government sources for information on the
legislative process and the rules and procedure of the U.S. House of Representatives and
the U.S. Senate. References to selected CRS products are also provided, as well as a
listing of selected titles for supplementary reading. Information is offered on the CRS
legislative institutes. This report will be updated as new information is available.
Understanding legislative procedure and processes is an essential tool for
congressional staff. The publications listed here are key resources that congressional staff
should be familiar with in order to understand basic legislative procedure in the House
Congressional staff can find official overviews and explanatory information on the
legislative process within the U.S. House of Representatives on the House Web site at
[http://www.house.gov/house/Tying_it_all.html]. Information on the legislative process
within the U.S. Senate is at [http://www.senate.gov/ learning/learn_process.html].
Reference sources on the rules and procedure of the House and Senate are also
available and are listed below.
House Rules and Procedure
Constitution, Jefferson’s Manual, and Rules of the House of Representatives.
Washington , GPO, 2001.
This manual is prepared for each Congress by the Parliamentarian of the House and
is issued as a House document (most recently for the 107th Congress as H.Doc. 106-320,
which is available at [http://www. access.gpo.gov/congress/browse-hd106-320.html]. It
contains the text of the Constitution; the rules of the House, and portions of Jefferson’s
Manual of Parliamentary Practice currently pertinent to House procedure, each with
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
commentary summarizing applicable precedents; a portion of the Congressional Budget
Act; and other statutory provisions that operate as procedural rules. Copies are distributed
automatically to House offices. The Rules of the House of Representatives section is
available in full text at [http://www.house.gov/house/Orgops.html]. This is often referred
to as House Rules and Manual.
House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents, and Procedures of the House.
Washington , GPO, 1996.
This one-volume publication prepared by William Holmes Brown , former House of
Representatives Parliamentarian, provides more current summary information on House
rules and selected precedents than Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives (see
next entry). Organized alphabetically by topic, it reflects changes in the House rules and
procedure adopted as of the 104th Congress. With the publication of this summary work,
and with the updating in each Congress of the House Rules and Manual, current
precedents are now more easily accessible to Members and staff of Congress. The full
text is available at [http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/browse-hp.html], but printed
copies are no longer available.
Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, 97th Congress; A Summary of the
Modern Precedents and Practices of the House, 86th Congress-97th Congress.
Washington , GPO, 1982.
Frequently referred to as Deschler’s Procedure, after a former Parliamentarian of the
House, this one-volume work summarizes House procedure and provides a cumulated,
condensed version of House precedents from 1959 to 1980. A supplement to this
volume, Procedure in the United States House of Representatives: Annotations of the
Precedents of the House for the 97th, 98th, and 99th Congresses, published in 1986, covers
the years 1981 through 1986. Both publications are out of print, but House offices can
obtain copies from the Office of the House Parliamentarian (5-7373).
Senate Rules and Procedure
Senate Manual. Washington , GPO, 2000.
This manual, usually prepared during the second session of each Congress by the
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, contains the standing rules, orders, laws,
and resolutions affecting the Senate, as well as copies of historical U.S. documents and
selected statistics on the Senate and other government entities. Issued as S.Doc. 1, copies
are automatically distributed to Senators and Senate committees. A limited number of
copies are available to Senators from the Senate warehouse (4-5770). The manual’s
“Standing Rules of the Senate” section is available in full text at
Riddick, Floyd M., and Alan S. Frumin. Riddick’s Senate Procedure: Precedents and
Practices. Washington , GPO, 1992.
This publication was revised and updated in 1992 by the Parliamentarian of the
Senate and published as S.Doc. 101-28. Organized alphabetically by topic, it contains
currently applicable rulings by the presiding officer and practices related to Senate
procedure. An appendix has suggested forms for various procedures, for example,
offering motions or filing conference reports.
Senate Cloture Rule. Washington , GPO, 1985.
This committee print (S.Prt. 99-95) was prepared for the use of the Senate
Committee on Rules and Administration by the Congressional Research Service. It
includes lists of selected filibusters; tables of cloture votes; a legislative history of the
cloture rule; and a bibliography. Members of Congress can obtain copies from the Senate
Committee on Rules and Administration (4-6352) or the Congressional Research Service
Primers on the Legislative Process and Related Documents
Excellent general reference sources on the legislative process are available to the
Our American Government . Washington , GPO, 2000. 130 p. (H.Doc. 106-216)
This revised version of the popular introductory guide is written in a question-andanswer format which covers a broad range of topics dealing with the legislative,
executive, and judicial branches of our government. Its Appendixes contain a glossary
of legislative terms and a selective bibliography.
The Constitution of the United States of America As Amended: Unratified Amendments:
Analytical Index. Washington , GPO, 2000. 79 p. (H.Doc. 106-214)
This revised version contains the text of the Constitution, its Amendments, and a
very useful index to the Constitution and Amendments.
Dove, Robert B. Enactment of a Law; Procedural Steps in the Legislative Process.
Washington , GPO, 1982.
Prepared by the Senate Parliamentarian, this primer on the legislative process traces
procedures used in the Senate and the House of Representatives. No printed copies are
available, but it was updated in 1997 and can be found on the CRS Web site at
Overview.shtml] as well as on THOMAS, the Library of Congress public Web site.
Johnson, Charles W. How Our Laws Are Made. Washington , GPO, 2000.
This guide is updated periodically (most recently as H.Doc. 106-197), available at
made.shtml] on the CRS Web site and also on the THOMAS Web site. This pamphlet
outlines stages in the legislative process for the generalist and explains the uses of various
publications, which track that process. It was prepared by the Parliamentarian of the
House of Representatives in consultation with the Parliamentarian of the Senate.
Members of Congress can obtain copies from the House Legislative Resource Center and
the Senate Document Room.
CRS has a variety of resources and services available on legislative procedure.
The CRS Web site is available for the use of Members of Congress and
congressional staff at [http://www.crs.gov]. CRS products including electronic briefing
books are available there, along with links to the Legislative Information System (LIS).
Members of Congress and congressional staff may obtain useful CRS materials on
legislative procedure from “CRS Guides to Congressional Processes” on the CRS Web
site at [http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml]. Short one- or two-page
fact sheets on House procedure are available from “Fact Sheets: House Legislative
Fact Sheets on Senate procedure are available from “Fact Sheets: Senate Legislative
CRS Reports and Info Pack
CRS Report 98-439. Amendment Process in the Committee of the Whole.
CRS Report 98-812. Amendments Between the Houses.
CRS Report 98-706. Bills and Resolutions: Examples of How Each Kind is Used.
CRS Report 98-728. Bills, Resolutions, Nominations, and Treaties: Origins, Deadlines,
Requirements, and Uses.
CRS Report 98-564. Committee of the Whole: Stages of Action on Measures.
CRS Report RS20794. The Committee System in the U.S. Congress.
CRS Report 98-736. Floor Consideration of Conference Reports in the House.
CRS Report RS20200. General Debate In Committee of the Whole.
CRS Report 98-777. The House Amendment Tree.
CRS Report RL30945. House and Senate Rules of Procedure: A Comparison.
CRS Report 98-338. House Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony.
CRS Report 98-175. House Committee Jurisdiction and Referral: Rules and Practice.
CRS Report 98-335. House Committee Markup: Amendment Procedure.
CRS Report 98-267. House Committee Markup: Reporting.
CRS Report 98-188.
House Committee Markup: Vehicle for Consideration and
CRS Report RS20308. House Committee Markups: Commonly Used Motions and
CRS Report 98-458. Introducing a House Bill or Resolution.
CRS Report 98-459. Introducing a Senate Bill or Resolution.
CRS Info Pack IP247L. Legislative Procedure: An Introduction, is described on the CRS
Web site and can be ordered from CRS.
CRS Report 95-563. The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction.
CRS Report 96-548. The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction.
CRS Report RL30787. Parliamentary Reference Sources: House of Representatives.
CRS Report RL30788. Parliamentary Reference Sources: Senate.
CRS Report 98-143. Procedural Distinctions Between the House and the Committee of
CRS Report 98-334. Provisions of Special Rules in the House: An Example of a Typical
CRS Report RS 20147. Quorum Requirements in the Senate: Committee and Chamber.
CRS Report 98-389. Senate Rule XIV: Procedures for Placing Measures Directly on the
CRS Report 98-612. Special Rules and Options for Regulating the Amending Process.
CRS Report 98-222. Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of House Bills.
CRS Report 98-279. Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of Senate Bills.
In addition to legislative procedure material available on the CRS Web site, CRS
offers several programs on legislative procedure for congressional staff. Legislative staff
members are invited to attend Congress: An Introduction to Resources and Procedure,
an introductory CRS program designed for and offered only to permanent, professional
Hill staff who seek a foundation for understanding the legislative process and the
resources available to monitor it. This CRS program is offered 10 or more times a year
and is the first of the CRS Legislative Process Institutes, a three-part series providing
training in the legislative process. The other parts are the Advanced Legislative Process
Institute and the Graduate Institute (the “CRS Congress”). Attendance at Congress: An
Introduction to Resources and Procedure is recommended as a prerequisite for the CRS
Advanced Legislative Process Institutes. More information on the three CRS institutes
is available on the CRS Web site at [http://www.crs.gov/services/general/briefings.shtml]
or by telephone at 7-7904.
Legislative staff members are also invited to attend Budget Process Institutes. The
introductory Overview of the Federal Budget Process is offered several times each year
and provides an introduction to federal budgeting procedures, particularly procedures
used in Congress. Three advanced institutes —Budget Resolutions and Reconciliation,
The Appropriations Process, and The President and the Budget —are offered during the
year at times when they are most relevant to staff interested in understanding these
particular parts of the budget and appropriations process. CRS Report 98-721,
Introduction to the Federal Budget Process, is available for staff on the CRS Web site.
Event dates for CRS programs and institutes can be found on the CRS Web site at
Congress A to Z. 3rd ed. Washington , Congressional Quarterly Press, 1999. 592 p.
Davidson, Roger H. and Walter J. Oleszek. Congress and Its Members. 8th ed.
Washington , CQ Press, 2001. 510 p.
Green, Alan. Gavel to Gavel. 5th ed. Washington , Benton Foundation/C-SPAN, 1993.
Guide to Congress. 5th ed. Washington , CQ Press, 2000 . 2 vol.
Jefferson, Thomas. A Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the
United States. Washington , GPO, 1993. 129 p. (S.Doc. 103-8)
Koempel, Michael L., and Judy Schneider. Congressional Deskbook 2001-2002.
Alexandria, VA , TheCapital.Net, Inc., 2001. 620 p.
Kravitz, Walter. Congressional Quarterly’s American Congressional Dictionary. 3rd ed.
Washington, CQ Press, 2001. 280 p.
Oleszek, Walter J. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process.
Washington , CQ Press, 2001. 348 p.
Tiefer, Charles. Congressional Practice and Procedure: A Reference, Research, and
Legislative Guide. New York , Greenwood Publishing Group, 1989. 1,046 p.
Where to Get These Publications
Many of the works on legislative procedure listed here are produced by the
Government Printing Office (GPO) and may be purchased with credit cards:
! by telephone, (202) 512-1800;
! online at the GPO Bookstore Web site at [http://bookstore.gpo.gov]; or
! by fax, (202) 512-2250.
Some of these publications are only available from congressional sources for
congressional office use, while others listed in the Supplementary Reading section may
be purchased from bookstores or publishers.