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Laws of the United States

United States Code

The U.S. Code is the official compilation of the current Federal statutes of a general and permanent nature. The Code is arranged according to subject matter under 50 subject headings ("titles"). The Code sets out the current status of the laws, as amended, without repeating all the language of the amendatory acts except where necessary. The Code is prima facie evidence of those laws. Its purpose is to present the laws in a concise and usable form without requiring recourse to each original act and each subsequent amendment.

The Code is prepared by the Law Revision Counsel of the House of Representatives. New editions are published every six years and cumulative supplements are published after the conclusion of each regular session of the Congress. A cumulative edition of the Code (incorporating the current supplement into the most recent main edition) is also available in electronic form, as well as historical versions of the Code.

Statutes at Large and slip laws

The first official publication of a Federal statute is in the form generally known as a "slip law." In this form, each law is published separately as an unbound pamphlet. The heading indicates the public or private law number, the date of approval, and the bill number. The heading of a slip law for a public law also indicates the United States Statutes at Large citation.

The Office of the Federal Register (National Archives and Records Administration) prepares the slip laws and provides marginal editorial notes giving the citations to laws mentioned in the text and other explanatory details. The marginal notes also give the United States Code classifications, enabling the reader immediately to determine where the statute will appear in the Code. Each slip law also includes an informative guide to the legislative history of the law, including the committee report number, the name of the committee in each House, as well as the date of consideration and passage in each House, with a reference to the Congressional Record by volume, year, and date.

Section 113 of title 1 of the United States Code provides that slip laws are competent evidence in all the federal and state courts, tribunals, and public offices.

The United States Statutes at Large (also prepared by the Office of the Federal Register) provide a permanent collection of the laws of each session of Congress in bound volumes. Each volume contains a complete index and a table of contents. A legislative history appears at the end of each law. There are also extensive marginal notes referring to laws in earlier volumes and to earlier and later matters in the same volume.

Under the provisions of title 1, section 112 of the U.S. Code, the Statutes at Large volumes are legal evidence of the laws contained in them and will be accepted as proof of those laws in any court in the United States.

The Statutes at Large are a chronological arrangement of the laws exactly as they have been enacted. The laws are not arranged according to subject matter and do not reflect the present status of an earlier law that has been amended. The laws are organized in that manner in the code of laws.