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The Truth Behind the United States Federal Budget

While the process of passing the United States Federal Budget each year can seem incredibly complex and confusing, it can be summarized in just a few steps.

  1. First, the various federal agencies submit budgets to the president to review. This means the Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and all the rest each propose the costs and funding allocations they predict for the following fiscal year.
  2. Next, based on the information gathered from the various departments, the president submits a budget request, or proposal, to Congress. This takes place every February, as the fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
  3. This is where it gets complicated. Following the president’s submission, both the House of Representatives and the Senate vote on resolutions for the budget. These resolutions are not concrete, but provide boundaries for Congress to use when settling the actual numbers.
  4. At this point, it’s up to the Appropriations Committees in both the House and the Senate. They use the budget resolutions as a framework and decide precise amounts to be allocated to each department.
  5. Then, it is put on the floor for debate. The full House and Senate are able to debate and vote on the appropriations bills upon which each subcommittee agreed.
  6. Finally, the budget is sent back to the president for review and he or she decides whether or not it will be signed into effect. Ideally, but rarely, this process comes to conclusion before its deadline on Oct. 1.

It is important to remember that Congress is available for contact from its constituents throughout this process which lasts a minimum of nine months. In order to ensure the United States Federal Budget matches the people’s wishes, it is crucial to call or email representatives.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr