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House Communications Are Now Available in Congress.gov!

As part of our latest Congress.gov enhancements, we are excited to provide access to House Communications transmitted from January 6, 2015-present (since the 114th Congress convened). House Communications frequently consist of petitions by state and local officials, memorials, messages from the President, and reports submitted to the House by executive agencies that are sometimes required by federal legislation. Those reports that are associated with laws requiring the report can be tracked in Congress.gov by a requirement number that is assigned by the House Clerk. You will see the requirement number(s) on the right-hand side of the overview box on a communication. One law may require an agency to submit multiple reports to the House, so you may see the same requirement number associated with several different communications. Also, not all communications received by the House are related to a requirement.  In those cases, no requirement will be displayed.

To browse House Communications from the Congress.gov homepage, look under the heading “Current Legislative Activities” and continue down to the bottom of “House Links” where you will see “Communications to the House.”

Screenshot of House Links

House Communications on the Congress.gov homepage

You can also search House Communications by using the global search on the Congress.gov homepage. Just click on the dropdown menu, selecting “House Communications.” For example, you could search for the legal authority that requires an agency to submit a report as a House Communication.

Screenshot of global search

House Communications in the Congress.gov global search

House Communications can also be searched using the Advanced Search Query Builder form and the Command Line Search.

House Communications search screen in the Congress.gov query builder

House Communications search screen in the Congress.gov query builder

Regardless of how you choose to access the House Communications collection the search results will display the communication number, which is assigned by the House Clerk, the Congressional Record date when the communication appeared in the Congressional Record, the committee to which the communication was referred, the Congress during which the communication was received, an abstract of the communication, and any related requirement number. You can refine your results using the filters on the left. You can narrow by communication type, committee to which the communication was referred, communication by U.S. State or Territory, and record type. You can also choose to sort your results at the top of the screen by Congressional Record date or by number.

Screenshot of House Communications search results

House Communications search results in Congress.gov

After you select a result, you will be presented with the number, the type of communication, the Congress, the date the communication appeared in the Congressional Record, and an abstract of the communication that includes the committee to which the communication was referred. On the right-hand side, you will see the agency that submitted the communication, the nature of the communication, the legal authority that required the communication (if applicable), and the requirement number.

A House Communication in Congress.gov

A House Communication in Congress.gov

If you click on the requirement number, you will be taken to a screen that provides information about that requirement. This screen identifies the agency, the frequency of the required communication, the nature of the communication required, and the legal authority requiring the communication. If there is a sunset provision associated with the requirement, that information will be displayed as well.

A screenshot of a House Requirement in Congress.gov

A House Communication Requirement in Congress.gov

So, how do you obtain copies of the complete House Communication? Abstracts and committee referral information for executive communications, petitions, and memorials are printed in the House section of the Congressional Record. Full texts of these documents are not usually printed in the Congressional Record. Communications to the House are delivered to the committee(s) to which they are referred. Committees have physical custody of the documents, and archive them. Please see the section “How to Obtain Copies of Communications to the House” in the About House Communications page for additional resources.

As a final note, if you have embedded the Congress.gov search box in your webpage, you will want to update your code so that the search box now includes House Communications in the dropdown menu. You can get the latest code here.

Do you have questions about House Communications? Contact us through Ask A Librarian.

One Comment

  1. Michael Ramos
    October 17, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Good tip! This’ll help me with my academic research – thanks!

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