Monday, January 23, 2012

Federal Budget and Appropriations Update

The Obama Administration has announced that it will release its 2013 Fiscal Year budget proposal on Monday, February 13: a budget highly-expected to be more frugal on Federal discretionary spending than last year’s version. Anticipating criticisms from the left, the White House has preemptively hinted that their proposal will present a disappointingly slim budget, warning its political allies to brace themselves for an austere plan.

“Traditionally,” the release of the Administration’s budget proposal kicks the Federal appropriations process into high gear. Following its release, members of Congress would customarily start to negotiate and adopt a Budget Resolution in response to the President’s budget; House and Senate committees would schedule and hold budget hearings regarding the agencies under their jurisdiction, and Appropriations Committees in both the Senate and House would go about developing legislation to allocate funds (ostensibly in line with Fiscal Year 2013 spending ceilings set by the Budget Resolution). There are twelve appropriation subcommittees in each chamber, and each would be tasked with drafting legislation to allocate funds to government agencies within their respective jurisdictions.

However, few fiscal years end up reflecting that “traditional” appropriations approach. Last year’s example was a case in point, when the House developed a Budget Resolution, only to look on as the Senate declined to follow suite.

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) confirmed earlier this month that House Republicans plan to once more move a Budget Resolution forward in 2012, laying to rest rumors that the House would wait first for the Senate to act, in order to avoid a repeat of 2011.

An informative, June 2011, Congressional Research Service introduction to the Congressional budget and appropriations process can be read on-line or downloaded here (PDF file).

The latest news on appropriations efforts in Congress can be tracked on the respective House and Senate Appropriations Committee’s web pages, or on this Library of Congress web page.

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