What is the Congressional Record?

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress.

It provides a comprehensive account of what transpires on the floors of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Congressional Record serves as an essential resource for understanding legislative actions, debates, and discussions.

Here are key aspects of the Congressional Record:

1. Content:

  1. Transcripts of Debates:
    • The Congressional Record contains verbatim transcripts of debates and discussions that occur on the floors of the House and Senate. It includes the spoken words of members of Congress during sessions.
  2. Proceedings and Actions:
    • It includes a detailed account of legislative proceedings, such as the introduction of bills, amendments, votes, and other actions taken by members of Congress.
  3. Speeches and Statements:
    • Speeches, statements, and remarks made by members of Congress on various issues are recorded in the Congressional Record.
  4. Daily Digest:
    • The Congressional Record is organized into daily issues, and each issue includes a “Daily Digest” summarizing the day’s proceedings.

2. Publication:

  1. Daily and Permanent Editions:
    • The Congressional Record is published in two main editions:
      • Daily Edition: Published each day Congress is in session, it provides a daily account of proceedings.
      • Permanent Edition: Published when Congress is not in session, it compiles the daily editions into a permanent, bound record.
  2. Online Availability:
    • The Congressional Record is now widely accessible online, making it available to the public, researchers, and anyone interested in tracking congressional activities.

3. Official Record:

  1. Legal Authority:
    • The Congressional Record is considered the official record of Congress and holds legal authority. It is relied upon for historical and legal research, as well as for verifying the legislative history of laws.

4. Additional Elements:

  1. Appendix:
    • The Congressional Record may include an appendix containing additional materials such as extensions of remarks, communications, and statements submitted for the record.
  2. Index:
    • The Permanent Edition often includes an index to help users locate specific topics, bills, or discussions within its pages.

5. Purpose:

  1. Transparency and Accountability:
    • The Congressional Record serves as a tool for transparency, allowing the public, historians, and researchers to access a detailed account of congressional proceedings. It enhances accountability by providing a record of what transpired on the floors of Congress.
  2. Legislative History:
    • The Congressional Record is a crucial resource for understanding the legislative history of bills and resolutions. It helps track the evolution of legislation from introduction to enactment.


The Congressional Record is a vital component of the legislative process, offering a detailed and accurate record of congressional proceedings.

Its contents contribute to the transparency of government actions and provide valuable insights into the debates and decisions of the U.S. Congress.