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Michigan State University

U.S. Federal Legislative Information: Hearings

Finding bills, laws, congressional debate, voting records, hearings and more


Hearings are "a meeting or session of a Senate, House, Joint, or Special Committee of Congress, usually open to the public, to obtain information and opinions on proposed legislation, conduct an investigation, or evaluate/oversee the activities of a government department or the implementation of a Federal law." [Source: GPO Access]

Hearings include witness statements, verbal Q&A, submitted materials and correspondence and can serve as excellent primary sources.

House Subcommittee Hearing On AIDS 1983

Source: AP Images


Congressional committees have no statutory requirement to adhere to a mandated printing schedule, so availability of the official printed hearing on FDsys, Proquest Congressional or in fiche in the MSU Libraries can vary greatly.

If you are unable to find the text of hearings, use the resources marked * to find transcripts and/or submitted testimony. These sources usually have transcripts available within 1-2 days of a hearing.

Hearings can also include printed submissions, reports, etc which may not be available until the final, official hearing is published.



Search Tips

Proquest Congressional*

Full-text PDFs 1824-2003 including Unpublished Hearings in the Hearings module; 2003-current

Selected hearings are also included in the Serial Set module: 1789-1969

Transcripts and witnesses' written statements 1988-*

For transcripts (1988-2005 and hearings held within the last week), change the default search to ALL FIELDS INCLUDING FULL TEXT and use whatever information you have to search.

For transcripts (2005- ) and held more than 1 week ago, there is no need to change the default search to include full text.

FDsys Congressional Hearings 

Selected hearings 1997- ; official version

Whether or not a hearing is disseminated on FDsys - GPO Access depends on the committee. Graphics, including scanned images of camera-ready copy are omitted from the ASCII text version but are contained in the PDF files.

GovDocs 3West on paper and microfiche



Check catalog or use SuDoc number in Proquest Congressional; some pre-1976 hearings are not cataloged

LexisNexis Academic Transcripts *



Usually available within 1 day of hearing.

Current Committee web sites

House committees
Senate committees


Varies by committee; usually no more than last 5 years

Streaming video may also be available from the committee site. Possible source for transcripts of recent hearings.

CapitolHearings (C-Span) * Streaming audio

Distributes recent and current Senate committee hearings only.



C-SPAN Video Library

Streaming video

Mid 1980s- ; selected historical and current House and Senate hearings on streaming video.