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Congressional Information on the Library of Congress Web Site

Congressional Glossary

United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., east front elevation
John Plumbe, Jr. (1809-1857)
[United States Capitol, Washington,
D.C., east front elevation]
.
Half-plate daguerreotypes, ca. 1846
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number
LC-USZC4-3595

Bill - A proposed law introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. A bill originating in the House of Representatives is designated by the letters "H.R." followed by a number and bills introduced in the Senate as “S.” followed by a number. The sequential numbering of bills for each session of Congress began in the House with the 15th Congress (1817) and in the Senate with the 30th Congress (1847).

Concurrent Resolution – Legislation that relates to the operations of Congress, including both chambers, or express the collective opinion of both chambers on public policy issues. A concurrent resolution originating in the House of Representatives is designated by the letters “H. Con. Res.” followed by a number and concurrent resolutions introduced in the Senate as “S. Con. Res.” followed by a number. For example: H. Con. Res. 64.

Federal Depository Library – Congressional information and other Federal publications are available for free public use in Federal depository libraries throughout the United States.

Joint Resolution – Legislation considered to have the same effect as a bill. Unlike simple and concurrent resolutions, a joint resolution requires the approval of the President. Also, a joint resolution may be used to propose amendments to the Constitution. A joint resolution originating in the House of Representatives is designated by the letters “H.J. Res.” followed by a number and joint resolutions introduced in the Senate as “S.J. Res.” followed by a number. For example: S.J. Res. 2.

Private Law – A private bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in identical form that has been enacted into law. Private laws only affect a private individual or individuals. A Private law is designated by the abbreviation “Pvt. L.” followed by the Congress number (e.g. 104), and the number of the law. For example:
Pvt. L. 104-1.

Public Law – A bill or joint resolution passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in identical form that has been enacted into law. Public laws affect the entire nation. A Public law is designated by the abbreviation “Pub. L.” followed by the Congress number (e.g. 108), and the number of the law. For example: Pub. L. 108-211.

Resolution – Legislation introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, but unlike bills they may be limited in effect to the Congress or one of its chambers. The three types of resolutions are joint resolutions, simple resolutions and concurrent resolutions.

Roll Call Vote – There are several different ways of voting in Congress, one of which is the roll call vote, where the vote of each member is recorded. Not all bills, in fact, the minority of bills, receive a roll call vote.

Serial Set - The Serial Set contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports. The reports are usually from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation. The Serial Set began publication with the 15th Congress, 1st Session (1817).

Simple Resolution – Legislation that relates to the operations of a single chamber or expresses the collective opinion of that chamber on public policy issues. A simple resolution originating in the House of Representatives is designated by the letters “H. Res.” followed by a number and simple resolutions introduced in the Senate as “S. Res.” followed by a number. For Example: H. Res. 10.

Statutes at Large - The official source for the laws and resolutions passed by Congress. Every law, public and private, ever enacted by the Congress is published in the Statutes at Large in order of the date of its passage. Until 1948, all treaties and international agreements approved by the Senate were also published in the set.

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  March 16, 2022
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