After a bill is through the legislative process what occurs for it to be translated from the form it is in when it is debated in Congress to when it is "implemented" or written and published as a federal code?

For a concrete example I'm curious what happened in between

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-104s1028is/pdf/BILLS-104s1028is.pdf (or whatever "final" / "passed" / "approved" version of this bill may exist)

and what I presume (based on information available in my textbook) to be the incarnation of the bill under various parts of title 45


I'm particularly curious as I understand laws have colloquial names (GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA) and then incarnation in statutory text. So HIPAA was the name of the bill, or Pub. L. 104–191, and it eventually took the form of various parts of Title 45? What is this process? Who is responsible for it? Is there are documentation of how this process occurs?

2 Answers 2


There used to be a less transparent process (which is currently at issue in interpreting the qualified immunity defense of civil rights claims based upon language that a codifier removed from the enacted language).

These days, the bill is circulated as a public law more or less instantly, online, when it is signed. Congress and the White House coordinate on an electronic database to do it.

The bills enacted typically, these days, call for specific additions and modifications of the existing codification. Parts of the public bill that have substance (usually effective date language) are noted in footnotes to the codified code by legal publishers. It is a purely ministerial process.

In the old days, laws were passed without such specificity and a codifier had to decide where to put it.


The first citation in the question is to Senate Bill 1028 of the 104th Congress, 1st session. I did not research whether the link is authentic or whether the bill passed. Most bills that pass are incorporated in the United States Code. If the compilers do their job correctly, the U.S.C. says the same thing as the public law, but in a more organized structure.

The second citation in the question is to the Code of Federal Regulations. This is a compilation of regulations issued by the federal executive branch. Sometimes it might be a cut and paste from the law to the C.F.R. but sometimes the executive branch may exercise considerable judgement in creating the regulations. Whatever judgement they exercise is supposed to be within the boundaries set out in the law.

Some laws are suitable to be enforced directly without any need for executive branch regulations to flesh out the details. Other laws are not complete enough to enforce without executive branch regulations.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .