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Compiling a Federal Legislative History: A Beginner’s Guide

Presidential Communications

We sometimes receive questions about communications sent to Congress by the president that concern legislation. Since this Beginner's Guide pertains to legislative history, our focus is on executive communications, presidential messages, veto messages, and signing statements. If you would like to learn more about presidential proclamations and executive orders, these are covered in another Beginner’s Guide on our In Custodia Legis blog.

  • Executive communications are statements or petitions presented to Congress by the executive branch or other organization that may affect appropriations.
  • Presidential messages are written statements presented to Congress, which include the president’s Budget, State of the Union address, and messages regarding the need for legislation.
  • Veto messages are messages sent to Congress when the president exercises his or her veto power over legislation.
  • Signing statements express the president’s opinion on legislation and may include his or her interpretation on how the legislation may be enforced by the executive branch.

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