U.S. Code (U.S.C.) (CongressionalGlossary.com)

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

U.S. Code (U.S.C.)

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Following the assignment of a public-law number and statutory citation, and the publication of a slip law, the House of Representatives’ Office of Law Revision Counsel, working largely under the auspices of the Speaker of the House, organizes those public laws that are “general and permanent” into the United States Code, popularly referred to as the U.S. Code or just the Code. Unlike the sequential organization scheme of the Statutes at Large, all laws in the U.S. Code are organized by subject matter. The user can readily understand what is current law by checking the Code; all cumulative changes in federal law are reflected in the Code.

The U.S. Code is divided into fifty-one subject titles, and each title is divided into sections. Sections in a title might be grouped as subtitles, chapters, subchapters, parts, subparts, or divisions. Some titles also have appendices. The Office of the Law Revision Counsel has proposed adding four new titles to the U.S. Code: Title 52, Voting and Elections; Title 53, Small Business; Title 54, National Park System; and Title 55, Environment. (See “Codification Legislation of the Office” on the Law Revision Counsel’s web site.

Those titles enacted into positive law by Congress are legal evidence of the law contained in those titles (1 U.S.C. § 204). In legislative drafting, amendments to existing law are drafted to positive law, which explains why some legislation amends statutes while other legislation amends the U.S. Code.


A consolidation and codification of the general and permanent laws of the United States arranged by subject under 50 titles, the first six dealing with general or political subjects, and the other 44 alphabetically arranged from agriculture to war. The U.S Code is updated annually, and a new set of bound volumes is published every six years. Available online from various sources, including Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives, FDSys (GPO), and Legal Information Institute.

The U.S. Code does not include regulations issued by executive branch agencies, decisions of the Federal courts, treaties, or laws enacted by State or local governments. Regulations issued by executive branch agencies are available in the Code of Federal Regulations. Proposed and recently adopted regulations may be found in the Federal Register.

Also see Official Title / Short Title / Popular Title / Popular Name; Slip Law; Statutes at Large; § 4.110 Administrative Offices of the House, § 9.70 Laws and Their Codification, § 9.73 Excerpt from the U.S. Code, in Congressional Deskbook.

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