The Congressional Budget Process

One of the primary constitutional responsibilities of Congress is to pass legislation funding the operation and activities of the federal government.  Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution reads:  “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”  The power to appropriate belongs exclusively to the legislative branch.  Each year Congress undertakes to pass a budget and then, within the constraints set out by that budget, pass 12 appropriations bills that provide discretionary funding for the fiscal year, which begins October 1.

As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee I am tasked with the responsibility to carefully weigh priorities for federal spending and oversee how agencies spend taxpayer dollars.  It is important for citizens to understand this function of Congress, but unfortunately most people only hear short sound-bites about the budget process in the media and don’t have an opportunity to put them in context.  As a result, I have tried to provide a basic outline of how the federal budget process works so that you can follow this year’s appropriations cycle.

Helpful information:

Discretionary vs. Mandatory Spending
What are 302(a) allocations?
What are 302(b) allocations?
What are the 12 Appropriations Subcommittees?

Learn more about the process:

  1. The President’s Budget   
  2. Appropriations Committee Oversight Hearings 
  3. Passage of the Congressional Budget 
  4. Appropriations Committee Approval of Top-Line Numbers for Bills 
  5. Subcommittee and Full Committee Consideration of Appropriations Bills 
  6. Floor Consideration of Appropriations Bills 
  7. Conferencing an Appropriations Bill 
  8. Continuing Resolutions 
  9. Omnibus Appropriations Acts