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What is the Congressional Record?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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The Congressional Record is an official record of proceedings that take place in the United States Congress. It has been published since 1873, with other types of records being published before this point to satisfy the Constitutional mandate that Congress keep a “journal” of its proceedings. Members of the public can access the Congressional Record in a number of ways, and access to archived versions is also available.

The United States Government Printing Office (USGPO) is responsible for publishing the Congressional Record. A new edition is published every day and biweekly indexes are also published. At the end of a Congressional Session, all of the indexes and individual daily publications are bound together to create a complete record. Individual records and indexes are usually produced on newsprint, while higher quality paper is used for the permanent record.

In the Congressional Record, the USGPO reproduces speeches made in Congress, as well as the text of debates and voting records. People have an opportunity to revise and expand speeches before publication and when speeches are altered, they are marked so that readers can differentiate between the words spoken in Congress and the additions made later. Full House and Senate proceedings are reproduced in the Congressional Record, along with supplementary material in a section known as the Appendix or Extension of Remarks. The Daily Digest, in the rear of the Congressional Record, provides an overview of all activities for the day and acts as a table of contents.

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People can access digitized versions of the recent Congressional Record through the government printing office. Congress also maintains a searchable database that people can use to look up activities, specific topics, and individual Congresspeople. Copies of the Congressional Record can also be ordered by people who prefer to look at hard copy versions. State legislatures also maintain similar logs of their activities and these are also made available to members of the public through government offices.

The USGPO employs a large team of printers, indexers, and other support personnel to get the Congressional Record out on time. People interested in working for the USGPO can peruse job openings in public listings. Each job opening lists the qualifications required, as well as the responsibilities that accompany the position, and provides information about how to apply. Government employees have access to a number of benefits, and information about these is also provided to job applicants.

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