Public and private laws are prepared and published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). GPO Access contains the text of public and private laws enacted from the 104th Congress to the present. The database for the current session of Congress is updated when the publication of a slip law is authorized by OFR. Documents are available as ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.
Once an enrolled bill is signed into law by the President, the original enrolled bill is sent from the White House to the Archivist of the United States for publication. The enrolled bill is assigned a public law number by OFR and is issued in print as a "slip law." In addition to the law number, OFR assigns the legal statutory citation of each law and prepares marginal notes, citations, and the legislative history (a brief description of the Congressional action taken on each public bill), which also contains dates of related Presidential remarks or statements). OFR publishes the slip laws through the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). Therefore, there is a delay from the signed enrolled bill and the availabilty of the public law. Until then, you can read the full-text of the law using the enrolled version of that bill. The text of the enrolled bill will be identical to the public law.
Note: A slip law is an official publication of the law and is "competent evidence," admissible in all state and Federal courts and tribunals of the United States (1 U.S.C. 113).
What is the difference between a public and private law?
Public and private laws contain the following information in either the header or side notes:
At the end of each session of Congress, the slip laws are compiled into bound volumes called the Statutes at Large, and they are known as "session laws." The Statutes at Large present a chronological arrangement of the laws in the exact order that they have been enacted.
Every six years, public laws are incorporated into the United States Code, which is a codification of all general and permanent laws of the United States. A supplement to the United States Code is published during each interim year until the next comprehensive volume is published. The U.S. Code is arranged by subject matter, and it shows the present status of laws with amendments already incorporated in the text that have been amended on one or more occasions. It is maintained as a separate application on GPO Access.