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NSF & Congress

The Federal Budgeting and Appropriations Process (Accessible)

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The Federal Budgeting and Appropriations Process, divided in three segments.

July-February/Executive Branch Process: Budget Formation -- OMB gives guidance to federal agencies about levels of funding and priorities. The agencies work within those guidelines to structure a budget proposal. OMB makes final decisions about the agencies' proposed budget. Budget Submission - Generally, the President's Budget Request is submitted to Congress on or about the 1st Monday in February.

March-June/Legislative Process: House and Senate Budgets -- The House and Senate develop their own budget resolutions to set spending levels. These will often deviate from each other as well as from the President's request. These resolutions are NOT signed into law. Appropriations - The House and Senate Appropriations Committees, through their 12 subcommittees, hold hearings to examine the budget requests and needs of federal spending programs. The House and Senate then produce appropriations bills to fund the federal government. These bills are "marked-up," amended as needed, and approved by the Appropriations Committees.

July-October/Congress Finalizes Spending Levels -- Floor Consideration After approval by the Appropriations Committees, the bills head to the House and Senate floors where they may be further amended and eventually passed. Most times, the bills passed by House and Senate differ in some significant ways and must be reconciled. Final Passage - Once a final bill has been negotiated between the two chambers, it must then pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President. If Congress cannot agree on new funding levels before Oct. 1, a continuing resolution is required.

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The Federal Budgeting and Appropriations Process

First column: July-February -- Executive Branch Process, illustrated with small pages featuring text and graphs.
Second column: March-June -- Legislative Process, illustrated with the U.S. Capitol in front of the White House.
Third column: July-October -- Congress Finalizes Spending Levels, illustrated with "Approved" and a checkmark.