Law / Public Law / Private Law
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.
Schoolhouse Rock: America – I’m Just a Bill Music Video
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.
- 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
- Chapter 2.B. Why Submit Legislation?; Chapter 2.C. Drafting Legislation; Chapter 2.D. Forms of Legislation; Chapter 2.E. Bills; in Congressional Procedure
- Public Laws – National Archives
- Browse Public Laws on Congress.gov
- Public and Private Laws – Govinfo.gov
- “The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction,” CRS Report 95-563 (18-page PDF)
- “The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction,” CRS Report 96-548 (20-page PDF)
- “From Slip Law to United States Code: A Guide to Federal Statutes for Congressional Staff,” CRS Report R45190 (17-page PDF)
- “Procedural Analysis of Private Laws Enacted: 1986-2015,” CRS Report RS22450 (13-page PDF)
- “Calendars of the House of Representatives,” CRS Report 98-437 (5-page PDF)
- “Federal Statutes: What They Are and Where to Find Them,” CRS Report RL30812 (10-page PDF)
- Congressional Operations Briefing – Capitol Hill Workshop
- Drafting Federal Legislation and Amendments
- Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing
- Custom, On-Site Training
- Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments in a Nutshell, Audio Course on CD
- Congress, the Legislative Process, and the Fundamentals of Lawmaking Series, a Nine-Course series on CD
Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide
Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates
CongressionalGlossary.com, from TheCapitol.Net
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