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Federal Budgeting Process

Introduction

The federal budget process authorizing U.S. government spending is complex. These resources from both U.S. federal government and non-government sources explain how the government is funded, the budget process, and budget reports. They cover budget concepts such as the national debt, debt ceiling, the federal deficit, discretionary spending, mandatory spending, and more on revenue and expenditures.

Issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) the Budget of the United States Government is a collection of documents that contains the budget message of the President, information about the President's budget proposals for a given fiscal year, and other budgetary publications that have been issued throughout the fiscal year. OMB assists the president by gathering and compiling the plan. The President then submits the budget to Congress early in the year in a set of annual budget volumes including::

  • Budget of the U.S. Government - the main volume with the President's message
  • Analytical Perspectives
  • Appendix
  • Historical Tables
  • Mid-Session Review

At this point, Congress’s first task in the annual process is to pass a budget resolution creating a framework and setting overall spending limits. The final version of the budget resolution must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and signed by the President. The Constitution put Congress in charge of spending and borrowing; therefore, funding for agencies and their programs must be approved by Congress. 

Congressional appropriations subcommittees hold hearings on funding different functions of the government. The budget process is not complete until all the budget bills are approved, passed by both Chambers and signed by the President at the end of the fiscal year. Congress can also pass an Omnibus bill with funding for multiple areas. If the budget bills are not all passed, Congress may pass a continuing resolution to authorize temporary funding, or a government shutdown may occur. 

USAspending.gov is the official source of spending data for the U.S. Government. Its mission is to show the American public what the federal government spends every year and how it spends the money. You can follow the money from the Congressional appropriations to the federal agencies and down to local communities and businesses.