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Contacting Elected Officials: Comment on Pending Regulations

Provides information and tips when contacting elected federal officials.

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. 

The Reg Map: Informal Rulemaking

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.

How Do I Make a Comment on a Pending Regulation or Rule?

Rule-making (aka regulations) is the second half of law creation in the United States.  Rules are often overlooked when laws are passed, except when it comes to something controversial like Net Neutrality, Climate Change, or other pressing issues. Proposed rules are published for public comment in the Federal Register (FR), and it is pretty easy for anyone to submit a comment on any proposed rule via  You can also sign up for a free account to be notified on potential rules in areas you are interested in or rules proposed by one or more agencies you want to follow.

Notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as Executive Orders and other Presidential Documents are also published in the FR.  For more information on the FR, see The Federal Register: What It Is and How to Use It.

Another option for commenting on proposed rules is  This site will also allow you to search and submit comments directly, as well as directing you to regulations with comment periods ending soon.

If you would like to do some historical research or in depth analysis in regulations, see this guide and read the publication about the FR linked above.

How do I Find Current Regulations?

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register (FR) by the Executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

The CFR is divided into 50 titles which represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each title is divided into chapters which usually bear the name of the issuing agency. Each chapter is further subdivided into parts covering specific regulatory areas. Large parts may be subdivided into subparts. All parts are organized in sections, and most citations to the CFR will be provided at the section level.

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