When locating the original text of Congressional bills, it is important to understand how Congressional bills are numbered.

Each bill is assigned a number in sequential order when it is introduced into Congress. The bill is given a prefix to indicate the chamber of Congress it was introduced in. Bills introduced in the House of Representatives have the prefix “H.R.” while bills introduced in the Senate have the prefix “S.”

A new Congress is convened every two years and is given a number in chronological order beginning with the number “1” for the first Congress convened in 1789 after the ratification of the constitution. Since then, every new Congress has convened in an odd year. The current Congress, the 118th, convened in January 2023 and will run through December 2024. The previous Congress (the 117th) convened from 2021-2022.

Each time a new Congress is convened, the numbering of bills restarts. As of today, February 17, 2023, the House of Representatives is already up to H.R.1055 and counting! Because the numbering of bills restarts, there will be an H.R.1 and an S.1 for each of the 117 previously convened Congresses in addition to the current Congress. Thus, researchers trying to locate a bill by its number must know the number of the Congress it was introduced in or be prepared to look through a lot of bills.

Knowing the year the bill was introduced works too. Research tools that give you the option to search by bill number provide both the date range and the number of the Congress together, making it easy to locate the correct Congress to search.

Two of the best tools for locating bills by number include Congress.gov (free, but has some coverage gaps) and ProQuest Congressional Legislative & Executive Publications (available to all current BYU students and library visitors). If you have any trouble locating a bill, contact the library reference desk.