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November 27th, 2000
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Congressional Universe, a Database of Legislative Information

Looking for a quick and efficient way to trace legislative history? Need to track the status of a pending bill? Congressional Universe is a valuable tool for accomplishing these ends. It is a full text searchable online database providing access to information on the structure, activities and publications of the U.S. Congress from 1970 to the present.**

Highlights
Congressional Universe allows you to:

  • access Bills (1989 - present) and follow the status of pending bills through Bill Tracking
  • find legislation by searching the United States Code (current), Public Laws (1988 - present) and the Statutes at Large (1789 - present).
  • review federal regulations from the Federal Register (1980 - present) and the Code of Federal Regulations (current).
  • retrieve Congressional Publications (committee reports, house and senate documents, etc.).
  • access testimony from Congressional Hearings (1988 - present).
  • conduct a legislative history by searching the CIS/Index, which indexes and abstracts the working papers of Congress dating back to 1970. Results of a search are organized by type of document (committee reports, hearings, etc.).

Other Features
Other valuable features include the ability to:

  • browse Hot Topics covering important and current Congressional activities, including the full text of articles from a variety of publications. Hot Bills enacted or under consideration are also included.
  • retrieve information about individual Members of congress (biographies, voting records, bills sponsored, etc.).
  • search Inside Washington for the full text of articles from the National Journal dating from 1977 and the Congress Daily dating from 1991.

Tips for New Users
For a better grasp of the layout of the database and the searching options available:

  • click on Overview from the home page to view a map of the site that outlines all of the search categories.
  • review the help features on each search page for tips on searching.
  • click on Help at the top of the home page screen for a chart on how a bill becomes a law; an in depth discussion of the legislative process; a legislative glossary containing common words used in Congressional activities; and more.
  • select List of Links from the home page to view a list of web sites related to Congress and other organizations.

Access
Congressional Universe
is accessible from UW Law School and Law Library workstations only. To open, point your internet browser to http://library.law.wisc.edu/elecresources/databases/allwithann.htm. Click on the letter "C" at the top of the page, then scroll down and select Congressional Universe.

**To search for publications and laws between 1789 and 1969, use Congressional Masterfile1, which is also limited to UW Law School and Law Library connections. To access, follow the procedure described in the paragraph above, then scroll down and select Congressional Masterfile 1.

Written by: Sunil Rao
Reference Librarian
strao@facstaff.wisc.edu

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