Budget resolution

In the United States Congress, a budget resolution is part of the United States budget process. It is in the form of a concurrent resolution passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate but is not presented to the President and does not have the force of law. It sets out the congressional budget.

The United States House Committee on the Budget and the United States Senate Committee on the Budget draft a budget resolution. Following the traditional calendar, both committees finalize their draft resolution by early April and submit it to their respective floors for consideration and adoption.

Once both houses pass the resolution, selected Representatives and Senators negotiate a conference report to reconcile differences between the House and the Senate versions. The conference report, in order to become binding, must be approved by both the House and Senate.

The budget resolution establishes various budget totals, allocations, entitlements, and may include reconciliation instructions to designated House or Senate committees.

The budget resolution serves as a blueprint for the actual appropriation process, and provides Congress with some control over the appropriations process. No new spending authority, however, is provided until appropriation bills are enacted. A budget resolution binds Congress, but is not a law. It does allow for certain points of order to be made if the President does not follow the resolution. There may not be a resolution every year; if none is established, the previous year's resolution stays in force.[1]

Structure of the budget

Fundamentally, the budget resolution is structured along 20 budget functions, or categories of spending. Functional categories often cut across agency lines. For example, the National Defense function includes certain Department of Energy programs as well as Department of Defense programs. Functions are further subdivided into "subfunctions." In addition, though these functions and subfunctions are included in a budget resolution, which determines how Congress considers budget related legislation, they have little correspondence to any committee jurisdictions. Functions are, however, useful in understanding the placement of any given account in the federal government: Each account number has a series of numbers, the last three will indicate the function and subfunction; for example an account ending in "051" will indicate function 050 (Defense) and subfunction 051, which indicates a type of spending within the Defense category.

A listing of the budget functions can be found below.

Function Title FY 20051 ($ million)
050 National Defense 423,098
150 International Affairs 29,569
250 General Science, Space and Technology 24,459
270 Energy 1,883
300 Natural Resources and Environment 30,286
350 Agriculture 22,353
370 Commerce and Housing Credit 8,092
400 Transportation 69,494
450 Community and Regional Development 12,949
500 Education, Training, Employment and Social Services 91,817
550 Health 248,780
570 Medicare 293,574
600 Income Security 342,324
650 Social Security 516,457
700 Veterans Benefits and Services 65,444
750 Administration of Justice 40,781
800 General Government 19,392
900 Net Interest 177,909
920 Allowances (798)
950 Undistributed Offsetting Receipts (63,108)
Total: 2,354,755

^1 Estimated budget authority as presented in the President's budget (in million USD)

In addition to these functions, during the 110th Congress, in S. Con. Res. 21 and S. Con. Res 70, an additional function was included: Function 970, indicating spending on the global war on terrorism (Overseas Deployments and Other Activities (970)).


Prior to 1974, there was no Congressional Budget Office nor budget resolution process. When President Richard Nixon began to refuse to spend funds that the Congress had allocated, Congress needed a more formal means by which to challenge him. The resulting Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974[2] created the Congressional Budget Office and directed more control of the budget to CBO and away from the President's Office of Management and the Budget. The Act passed easily as the administration was then embroiled in the Watergate scandal and unwilling to provoke Congress.[1]

See also


  1. 1 2 Budget Resolution Explainer, Rudolph Penner, Urban Institute
  2. Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974

External links

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