The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to provide funding for U.S. Government operations and programs. This is known as the appropriations process. These are the steps:
- In February, the President submits a fiscal year budget request to Congress.
- The budget request is referred to the Appropriations Committees in both Houses, each of which have 13 subcommittees with combined jurisdiction over all federal discretionary spending and federal programs.
- Each of the 13 Appropriations Subcommittees in both the House and Senate drafts a funding bill for the federal departments or programs within their jurisdiction.
- Funding bills are then passed out of the Full House and Senate Appropriations Committees and subsequently by the full House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
- For each of the 13 bills, the House and Senate meet to hammer out differences between the two versions of the bill.
- Now unified in identical form, the bill is sent back to each House for final approval.
- The bill is sent to the President for signature into public law.
If an appropriations bill is not enacted by the fiscal year's end (Sept. 30), Congress must pass a Continuing Resolution to fund programs at the previous year’s level for an interim period.