Overview of the U.S. Regulatory System
Traditional civic lessons seem to stop after the president signs a bill into law. This is unfortunate since passing the law is only half of the story. Laws passed by the U.S. Congress are generally written using broad language, and its up to the federal agencies, with assistence from the White House Office of Management and Budget, and public comments, to produce the regulations specifying how the law is to be interpreted.
As illustrated by the above 9-step map the work involved in producing regulations is immense, but there are only 2 publications to use when researching regulations:
Federal Register- The Federal Register is published everyday (except on federal holidays) and provides proposed rules, final rules, announcements, regulatory agendas, and everything else related to the regulation process. The Federal Register is abbreviated FR in legal citations.
Code of Federal Regulations- Final rules and regulations published in the Federal Register are collected and published in the Code of Federal Regulations. It is the current regulations in force. This 50+ volume set is published annually in paper. CFR is the legal citation for the Code of Federal Regulations.
Following the Money Through Congress
CQ Moneyline--UCB ONLY
Provides tracking of the flow of money in politics at the federal level with some state information from 1980 to the present. Enables tracking of contributions from Political Action Committees (PACs), individual donors to politicians, elected officials, and party committees; follow soft money through 527 groups, and retrieve information on thousands of lobbyists, indexed by client and issue.
Launched by the Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets allows for the tracking of money from special interest, lobbyist, and industry to congressional members. Covers 105th Congress (1997) to present.
CQ Washington Information Directory--UCB ONLY
Includes over 10,000 entries on federal agencies, congressional committees and interest groups in Washington, D.C. Searchable by subject category, organization type and name. Part of the CQ Electronic Library collection.
One stop shopping for U.S. congressional publications. Provides index and abstracts of congressional publications back to 1789, including full text of published Congressional Hearings from 1824-present (unpublished until 1979), full text Committee Prints from 1830-present, full text Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports from 1916-present, full text United States Congressional Serial Set (and its various former titles) from 1789-present, and legislative histories from 1970-present. For more information on how to find hearings, consult the Congressional Tutorials homepage
Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet
Provides access to a wide range of legislative information on the Congress, including the full text of the Congressional Record and bills from the 103rd to the present, as well as a directory of congressional committees and members of Congress. Excellent resource for finding quick, online legislative histories and the full-text of Congressional Committee reports.
ProQuest Legislative Insight
Provides access to more than 18,000 professionally researched legislative histories of US Law. Histories include the Public Law itself, all versions of related bills, law-specific Congressional Record excerpts, committee hearings, reports and prints, Presidential signing statements, and CRS reports. 1929-present
Congressional Budget Office
Provides access to federal budget and economic information including the Monthly Budget Review, Current Budget Projections, Historical Budget Data.
CQ Congress Collection
Provides an historical analysis of members of Congress, their legislative voting behavior, interest group ratings, public policy legislation, current committees, background information and definitions, and chronology related to US Congress. Part of the CQ Electronic Library collection.
CQ Electronic Library
A reference source on American politics and government that includes the following modules: CQ Congress Collection, CQ Political Handbook of the World, CQ Researcher Plus Archive, CQ Supreme Court, CQ Voting and Elections, CQ Washington Information Directory, CQ Weekly. Access individual modules or search across all CQ collections.
Sources for Regulatory Information
The following are sources for regulatory information within the United States.
Provides lots of information on current regulations that are proposed, historic regulatory agendas, and other regulation information.
Established in the 1930's, the Federal Register is where proposed rules or changes to existing rules are published. This site also allows the public to comment on proposed regulations.
Code of Federal Regulations
This version of the Code of Federal Regulations is provided by The Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School. Search function is decent.
Hein Online--UCB Only
Provides full-text access to many government documents, including the all the regulatory publications going back to 1936. Can also be searched using legal citations. Once in the database, click on "Log in to HeinOnline," then scroll the webpage to "Federal Register Library." From here you can search the publication(s) you want.
Other Federal Agencies of Interest
The following agencies can help you discover regulations relating to financial reform or change.
Financial Stability Oversight Council
A new council that brings together expertise from federal financial regulators, an insurance expert appointed by the President, and state regulators. Provides links to component agencies you can obtain more information from.
Federal Reserve-Regulatory Reform
Federal Reserves webpage on regulatory reform. Includes information on regulations proposed since July 2010.
Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)
The Federal Housing Finance Agency was created in 2008 in part to resolve some of the issues with the housing market. Can provide some information on housing and mortgage regulations.
Commodities and Futures Trading Commission
The Commodities and Futures Trading Commission regulates futures and option markets. You can use it to discover regulations, see comments, etc.