Publication Date

May 2008

Abstract

[Excerpt] The Library of Congress, as its name suggests, is a library dedicated to serving the United States Congress and its Members. It serves additionally as an unexcelled national library. The Library was located in the Capitol Building with the House of Representatives and the Senate until 1897, and its collections always have been available for use by Congress. Building upon a concept developed by the New York State Library and then the Wisconsin legislative reference department, Wisconsin’s Senator Robert LaFollette and Representative John M. Nelson led an effort to direct the establishment of a special reference unit within the Library in 1914. Later known as the Legislative Reference Service, it was charged with responding to congressional requests for information. For more than 50 years, this department assisted Congress primarily by providing facts and publications and by transmitting research and analysis done largely by other government agencies, private organizations, and individual scholars. In 1970, Congress enacted a law transforming the Legislative Reference Service into the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and directing CRS to devote more of its efforts and increased resources to performing research and analysis that assists Congress in direct support of the legislative process.

Joined today by two other congressional support agencies, including the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service offers research and analysis to Congress on all current and emerging issues of national policy. CRS analysts work exclusively for Congress, providing assistance in the form of reports, memoranda, customized briefings, seminars, videotaped presentations, information obtained from automated data bases, and consultations in person and by telephone. This work is governed by requirements for confidentiality, timeliness, accuracy, objectivity, balance, and nonpartisanship. This report will be updated as circumstances warrant.

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Suggested Citation
Brudnick, I. A. (2008). The Congressional Research Service and the American legislative process (RS33471). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/key_workplace/511/

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