Law / Public Law / Private Law (CongressionalGlossary.com)

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Law / Public Law / Private Law

DSC_0112, by tracie7779

DSC_0112, by tracie7779

Law: An act of Congress that has been signed by the president or passed over his veto by Congress.

Public bills, when signed, become public laws, and are cited by “Pub. L.” or the letters PL and a hyphenated number, e.g., PL 114-234 or P.L. 114-234. The digits before the hyphen correspond to the Congress (114- would be the 114th Congress), and the one or more digits after the hyphen (-234) refer to the numerical sequence in which the bills were signed by the president during that Congress. A public bill or joint resolution that has passed both chambers and been enacted into law. Public laws have general applicability nationwide.

Public bills deal with general legislative matters national in scope, or that apply to the federal government or broadly to a entire class of persons or organizations. If approved by both chambers of Congress (the House and the Senate) in identical form and signed by the president (or re-passed by the Congress over a presidential veto), they become “Public Laws.”

After the president signs a bill into law, it is delivered to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), where editors 1) assign a Public Law Number; 2) prepare it for publication as a Slip Law, and 3) include it in the next edition of the United States Statutes at Large.

See Private Law.

Also see Pocket Veto, Slip Law, Statutes at Large, U.S. Code; § 6.300, Publication of Public Laws, § 9.70, Laws and Their Codification, in Congressional Deskbook.

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