Where to find recent Congressional testimony
Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke has made news headlines for her recent testimony on the subject of women’s health at a hearing held by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on February 23rd.
Congressional committees generally hold hearings for legislative, investigative, or oversight purposes. At a legislative hearing, witnesses are invited to provide testimony on behalf of or against legislation and the bill’s sponsor is expected to appear to defend his or her proposed legislation.
Official printed hearings contain transcripts of the proceedings of Senate and House committee meetings, member statements, question and answer sessions, and prepared statements submitted by those testifying before the committee. Official hearings are published by the Government Printing Office and can take anywhere from three months to three years to be published (if published at all!). It is entirely up to the discretion of the congressional committee (or subcommittee) to even publish a hearing.
Because the official hearing can take so long to be published, if you need to find witness testimony from a recent congressional hearing the best sources to search are the committee’s website and ProQuest Congressional.
House and Senate committees maintain information about hearings on their websites. Information about hearings includes, date, time and location of the hearing, agenda or purpose of the hearing, member statements, lists of witnesses with their submitted testimony, and live streaming or archived video of hearings.
Because Ms. Fluke “was blocked from testifying at [the] Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing,” the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee held a special hearing on the issue of women’s health and heard testimony from Ms. Fluke. The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee is not a standing committee, so it does not have its own website and its hearings are usually held for internal matters only.
- A link to video of Ms. Fluke testifying before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee (and also a link to on the committee’s YouTube channel)
- A transcript of Ms. Fluke’s submitted testimony, which she read at the February 23rd hearing
- The webpage for the committee’s February 16, 2012 hearing on contraception, which also includes the link to Fluke’s testimony.
In addition, C-SPAN recorded the February 23rd hearing, and that video can be found here.
ProQuest Congressional (PQC) is a comprehensive resource for U.S. Congressional publications and provides indexing, abstracts, and full text (PDFs and html) for legislative documents back to 1789; its collection of digitized hearings dates back to 1824. PQC also has a database of selected testimony transcripts and submitted statements, 1988 to current, which is updated daily. A search of PQC yielded the transcript of the proceedings, statements, Q&A, and testimony from the hearing of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, February 23, 2012.
If you need any assistance locating any Congressional publications, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance at the reference desk!