The Appropriations Process

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:

  1. In February, the President submits a fiscal year budget request to Congress.
  2. 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.  
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.   
  5. For each of the 13 bills, the House and Senate meet to hammer out differences between the two versions of the bill.   
  6. Now unified in identical form, the bill is sent back to each House for final approval.
  7. 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.