When considering a bill, Congress may hold hearings to find out more about the subject matter of the legislation or to determine how different interest groups feel about the issues involved. Committee hearings can be good sources of information on a particular topic.
Hearings consist of transcripts of oral testimony and may also include prepared statements or written reports or studies presented to the committee by the witness. Official hearings publications are printed by the Government Printing Office and contain all witness testimony, the question-and-answer portion of the hearing, and any other material requested of the witness by the committee. Not all hearings are published. Until official publication, all that may be available are individual transcripts of testimony. Two commercial services, Federal News Service and CQ Transcripts, selectively transcribe committee hearings and provide them to LexisNexis and Westlaw.
Finding Hearings in Print
The Regenstein Library has a complete set of all published Congressional committee hearings. All hearings are published with a title indicating the name of the committee and date of the hearing. Once you have identified the title of a hearing using ProQuest Congressional, consult the Library catalog to get the call number and location.
Finding Hearings Online
ProQuest Congressional is the best place to start to identify and find Congressional hearings. It provides index information and abstracts, as well as direct access to the full text in PDF when available.
Keep in mind that the electronic text versions of hearings available through ProQuest Congressional, LexisNexis, and Westlaw may not include everything from the official printed version. In some instances you may be able to find hearing documents from recent hearings on the website of the Senate or House committee or subcommittee that held the hearing.
The Library of Congress Congressional Research Service does research and writes report specifically for Congress. These reports are not normally distributed to depository libraries. A good overview of CRS and its reports is available from LLRX.
See also information from OpenCongress, focused on issues of public access to CRS reports.