Home > legislation > The Statutes at Large Modernization Act

H.R. 4006, The Statutes at Large Modernization Act

Introduced by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)

Endorsed by: Sunlight Foundation, R Street Institute, Demand Progress, Liberty Coalition, Data Coalition, OpentheBooks.com, and Niskanen Center


What is the United States Statutes at Large?

  • Compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, one volume per session of Congress since 1789
  • Legal and permanent evidence of the laws enacted during a session of Congress, plus
    • Concurrent resolutions
    • Reorganization plans
    • Proposed and ratified amendments to the Constitution
    • Proclamations by the President

Why does it need to be available online?

  • The United States of America was established as “a government of laws, and not of men.”
  • The rule of law requires that the laws be available to the people. 
  • The Internet is the dominant, ubiquitous communications platform of modern society.

Isn’t the U.S. Code enough?

  • The U.S. Code is not a complete history of the laws of our Republic.
  • It does not include, however, repealed laws, original statutes that have been amended, private laws, or statutes with limited duration like appropriations acts or infrastructure projects.
  • In addition, only about half of the titles of the U.S. Code are codified as positive law. The other, uncodified titles are merely “evidence” of the law before the judicial branch, so attorneys must consult the United States Statutes at Large on questions of law related to uncodified titles.

Hasn’t the Law Library of Congress already digitized the Statutes at Large?

  • The Law Library of Congress has published the Statutes at Large in a text-over-PDF format.
  • It does not, however, include adequately defined and embedded data elements that enable advanced search functions, machine readability, and other useful options.
  • It’s a good start, but it isn’t the modern, authoritative version we need.

How will the digitization process work?

  • The National Archives and Records Administration will take the lead.
  • It will also consult with public and private entities with expertise in developing formatting conventions for legislative materials.
  • Including the results on www.congress.gov will make it a more complete research resource.

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