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How is the Federal Government Funded? Who writes the checks for an approximate $3.7 trillion annual budget? When does the funding for each budget take effect? The federal budgeting process is extremely complicated. Fortunately, there are resources available to help navigate these complex processes.

McKeon Group works tirelessly to help our clients navigate through the complex annual federal budgeting process, and in our last newsletter, we presented a few ideas as to the best way to get your message in front of the federal government. In this newsletter, we present a short summary in federal budgeting—the writing of checks by Congress to fund the federal government for the next year.

Congress handles federal funding in annual authorization bills and appropriations bills. Authorization bills establish, continue, or modify agencies or programs. Appropriations bills provide the funding for respective agencies and authorized programs.

Regular appropriations bills provide funding for the fiscal year beginning October 1st and must be enacted by that date, or Congress is forced to pass either a collective OMNIBUS appropriations measure or continuing resolutions (CRs) to carry on federal funding. Without appropriations funding, a partial federal government shutdown can result.

Each year, Congress undertakes the congressional appropriations process to consider 12 different federal appropriations measures providing discretionary funding to the federal agencies.

The jurisdiction of Appropriations measures resides in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and each of the appropriations bills provides specific funding to respective agencies and activities; national defense, transportation, and homeland security are a few examples. Discretionary spending accounts for approximately 34 percent of total federal funding, and more than 60 percent resides under mandatory spending.

Federal agencies work on their next fiscal year budget submissions throughout the Summer and Fall, and the Office of Management of Budget (OMB) negotiates the final numbers to reflect administration priorities over the Winter.

The next fiscal year annual appropriations budget cycle begins, by law, on the first Monday in February, with the submission of the President’s budget. Then, by law, the House and Senate Budget Committees debate the annual revenue and spending targets and remedy any differences in a budget resolution by April 15th.

Typically, House and Senate Authorizations and Appropriations Committees, and their respective subcommittees, begin budget posture hearings in February to debate the president’s budget and programs. Appropriations Committees and their respective subcommittees receive procedural limits (302(a) and 302(b) allocations) on the total amount of budget authority for the upcoming fiscal year and set about to draft resulting appropriations legislation.

Usually by late Spring or early Summer, the committees have completed their hearings and begin markups on the individual appropriations bills in committee. The full House and Senate debate each of the spending bills on the respective House or Senate floor, and floor debates could last days or weeks depending on procedural rules and the number of amendments.

The timeline to the budget posture cycle is of key importance, as the best time to influence a federal budget is while it is being debated and deliberated, or even earlier when the federal agencies are beginning their budget work, and McKeon Group’s relationships and expertise proves invaluable in navigating our clients through those rocky shoals.


To learn more about the federal budgeting process, please see the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports below—or feel free to contact McKeon Group.

Overview of the Authorization-Appropriations Process

http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid=%270DP%2BPLW%3C%22%40%20%20%0A

The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction

http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid=%260BL%2BP%3C%3B3%0A