Posts tagged ‘omnibus bill’

The Annual Budget and Appropriations Processes

The president submits a proposed budget to Congress on the first Monday in February, although there can be some flexibility regarding the actual date of this submission.

The Proposal
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Known as the President’s Budget, this request to Congress is used as the basis for reports prepared by congressional budget committee members and staff. Appropriations hearings will be held to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to address concerns related to agency policies and programs.

Beginning in June and continuing through the month of October, both the House and the Senate work on the thirteen appropriations measures that ultimately fund the federal government.

Congressional appropriations bills must be passed by the beginning of the fiscal year in order for the government to be funded. The federal government’s fiscal year begins on October 1st, and if appropriations bills are not funded by then, Congress has the option of passing temporary stop-gap legislation that prevents the government from shutting down until appropriations bills can be finalized. When such measures are utilized they are known as Continuing Resolutions or CRs.

The need of lobbyists to track congressional schedules is Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelaklargely driven by the appropriations process. This remains true even when lobbyists are not directly involved in lobbying appropriations legislation. Important policy issues that are related to a lobbyist’s main area of interest can be considered and resolved quickly.

Free standing or separate legislation that is of interest to lobbyists can also be added into omnibus measures. This occurs when two or more of the thirteen appropriations bills are combined when Congress completes appropriations action in the fall. The end of the appropriations process is a challenge for Congressional members and staff, culminating in increased workload and late night sessions. As a result, it is not uncommon for provisions to be included with little or no warning or public scrutiny at all. This is why lobbyists must build and maintain a strong rapport with and proactively educate appropriations committee members and staff regarding their areas of concern before the beginning of the appropriations season. Failure to do so can result in action occurring that can have a strong impact on a lobbyist’s area of interest without the opportunity to take action.

To learn more about the President’s Budget, see TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day course, The President’s Budget. To learn more about the annual budget and appropriations process, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 2-day Advanced Federal Budget Process.

Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 4.10 The Annual Budget and Appropriations Processes.

For detailed information about the legislative and budget process, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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A Guide to Reconciliation Legislation

Congress has utilized reconciliation more often than not, beginning in 1980. This special type of legislation is often used for implementing significant budget policies and for bringing existing revenue and spending law in line with policies in a budget resolution. Although reconciliation is an entirely optional process, it has been increasingly used in recent years.

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There are two stages to the reconciliation process: the adoption of reconciliation directives and the enactment of reconciliation legislation. Specific procedures for reconciliation can vary from year to year.

Reconciliation can provide an avenue for changing the amount of revenues, outlays or budget authority that is generated by existing law. In a rare number of cases, reconciliation has also been used for adjusting the public-debt limit.

The reconciliation process always begins with a directive in a budget resolution that instructs designated committees to recommend legislation that will change existing law. There are three components to such directives. First, they serve to identify the committee or committees that are directed to recommend legislation. Second, they specify the precise amounts of changes in outlays or revenues that are to be achieved by the changes in law. Third, directives typically establish a deadline by which committees must make recommend changes in law.

Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy SchneiderThe directives do not specify the way in which the changes are to be made, precisely which laws are to be changed, or the programs that are to be affected.

Committees maintain the discretion to determine the legislative changes that are to be recommended. While committees are not bound by any program change recommendations, it is expected that the committee will recommend legislation that will produce the amounts noted in the reconciliation directives.

Whenever multiple committees in the House and the Senate are subject to reconciliation directives, proposed legislative changes will be consolidated into an omnibus bill by the Budget Committees. The Byrd rule was adopted in 1985 as a way of curbing practices such as the inclusion of provisions that had no budgetary effect or that violated the jurisdiction of another committee.

Debate on reconciliation legislation by the Senate is limited to twenty hours. The Senate may choose to continue consideration of amendments, appeals and motions following those twenty hours, but no further debate is allowed on the subject.

For more information on reconciliation, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 2-day course in DC, Advanced Federal Budget Process.

Adapted from the Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneider, Section 9.110 Reconciliation Legislation

For detailed information about the legislative and budget process, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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