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Federal Legislative History Research

How to perform federal legislative history research.

What Are Signing Statements?

When signing or vetoing a bill, the President may issue a statement about the law. These presidential signing statements are initially published in compilations of presidential documents, and are later included in the president's public papers. While the initial compilations where previously published in print for each day and week of a presidential administration (as the Daily Compilation and Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents respectively), the initial daily compilation has been online only since 2009.  

Please note, access to certain databases linked in this guide may be restricted to UT Law or the UT community; please see the library's Databases page that lays out access privileges.

Example of a Signing Statement

Example from the No Child Left Behind Act.

Bluebook citation, Rule 14.7(b): President's Remarks on Signing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 in Hamilton, Ohio, 1 Pub. Papers 23 (Jan. 8, 2002).

Pres. Bush's remarks on signing the law.

View full-text at HeinOnline.

Where to Find Presidential Signing Statements - Online

Where to Find Presidential Signing Statements - Tarlton

A Word About . . .USCCAN

U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN) is a unique resource published by West, available on Westlaw. It offers two sets of volumes per Congress: one set is a reprint of the Statutes at Large and the other set is labeled "Legislative History," containing lists of citations, abridged reports, and presidential signing statements.

Thus USCCAN has characteristics of both a compilation and a list of citations. However, because it reprints only highlights from a law's legislative history, it is not a comprehensive source as either a compilation or a list. Still, it can be quite convenient to use--you will find references to the relevant portions of USCCAN listed by section in the USCA. Because it focuses on the highlights, it can be a good first source to check.

How GPO Prints the Public Papers of the President

A video from the U.S. Government Printing Office, which prints the Public Papers of the President.