Skip to Main Content

U.S. Government Information & Congressional Publications

Unpacking the Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is a strange, wondrous, and problematical publication. It is the record of the proceedings, debates, and activities of Congress. But that doesn't begin to describe the drama, comedy, egos, and sleight-of-hand that are in this publication. All of this is carefully cloaked in boring details. The text is more or less verbatim and many of the oddities result due to the "more or less" nature.

The Record also includes messages, reports, and communications from the President and executive agencies.

For most of its one hundred and forty years of publishing, there have been two editions:

  • Daily issues
    • Newsprint
  • Bound volumes (permanent)
    • Cumulation of all daily issues


Congressional Record began March 4, 1873, the opening day of the 43rd Congress (special session).

Congressional Record predecessors:

Non-Governmental Information: 

It's an honor to be mentioned in the Congressional Record and people, businesses, organizations are often cited, lauded, proclaimed, or paid tribute to.

There are many reasons that Members of Congress introduce non-governmental issues or persons in the Congressional Record. The most common reasons are:

  • Bring recognition to a world or national event or person
  • Bring recognition to constituents
  • Bring attention to their state

These extraneous entries in the Record span a great range of topics, honoring heroes to honoring the birth of a baby.

Sections (1968-present):

  • House
  • Senate
  • Extensions of Remarks
  • Daily Digest (summary of the day's activity)
  • Each section is paginated separately
  • Pages for each section start with the number 1 and continue to the end of  the session of Congress
  • Page numbers are preceded by a letter for the section: H, S, E, D

Daily issues do not have an index; the Daily Digest is the best point of access when a page number is not known.


Bound volumes are printed at the conclusion of each session of Congress and after a long delay. 

According to the Government Publishing Office:

At the end of each session of Congress, all of the daily editions are collected, re-paginated, and re-indexed into a permanent, bound edition. This permanent edition, referred to as the Congressional Record (Bound Edition), is made up of one volume per session of Congress, with each volume published in multiple parts, each part containing approximately 10 to 20 days of Congressional proceedings.

The primary ways in which the bound edition differs from the daily edition are continuous pagination; somewhat edited, revised, and rearranged text; and the dropping of the prefixes H, S, D, and E before page numbers.

Congressional Record Bound Edition 

UD Library Holdings (print)

Call number: U.S Docs Reference (X followed by vol. number) (holdings: 1973 - 2009 (v. 119 - v. 155)

Call number: Library Annex (X followed by vol. number) (holdings: 1874 - 1972 (v. 2 - v. 118)

UD Library Holdings (microfilm)

Call number: Microfilm S 687 (holdings: 1873 - 1972 (v. 1 - v. 118)


Beginning with the 1985 edition, GPO distributes the permanent bound edition only to Regionals or major depositories in states without a regional, such as, the University of Delaware Library.


The Members of Congress can alter the statements made on the floor. They can edit or delete remarks.

This revision notification appears at the bottom of the last page of each daily issue:

Following each session of Congress, the daily Congressional Records is revised, printed, permanently bound and sold by the Superintendent  of Documents in individual parts or by sets.

Noting if a revision has taken place is difficult to spot, but you can find revisions at the bottom of daily record. 

Electronic Records: 


The Record is published digitally. Now Members can edit their statements immediately in the daily issues.

In explanation, this information is posted on the Library of Congress website:

Many statements in the Congressional Record were never said on the floor, but were rather added later to the Congressional Record.

Extensions of Remarks

The House of Representatives uses a separate section to print extended remarks. The section includes:

additional legislative statements not actually delivered on the House floor, as well as extraneous material, such as texts of speeches delivered outside Congress, letters from and tributes to constituents and newspaper or magazine articles.

from "About the Congressional Record."

Order to be printed

While speaking on the floor, a Member of Congress can request that material be added.

Wording to this effect is used: "I request unanimous consent that it printed in the Record."

The proceedings show: "There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows."

Appended or Inserted

Each house allows for remarks to be added to the proceedings. Each house has created a visual way for readers to know this. These statements appear at the bottom of the first page of the proceedings of the respective house.


"Matter set in this typeface indicates words inserted or"



"This bullet symbol identifies statements"

Note: these visual markers were not added until 1978. Prior to that, there was no way to distinguish what was said and what was added.