Definition: Each year, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees receive an overall funding allocation for the coming federal fiscal year. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees then, respectively, decide on how to apportion the overall amount to each of their corresponding 12 subcommittees. The amount assigned to each of the 12 subcommittees is known as a 302(b) allocation and taken together the 12 assigned amounts are known as 302(b) allocations. From this funding allocation starting point, the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees distribute federal spending authority throughout the specific departments, agencies, and programs under their jurisdiction.
Used in a sentence:“[Senator] Mikulski said that she and [Congressman] Rogers have discussed allotments, which appropriators call ‘302(b) allocations,’ for their section in the 1974 budget act. ‘I know what his are, but ours will be different,’ she said.”
History: The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 is a law that modifies Congress’ role with respect to the federal budgeting process. (Government Printing Office Public Law 93-344) The main provisions of the law created a process whereby both chambers of Congress agree on a single concurrent budget resolution. which is not signed by the President. Additionally, during budget debates members may raise budget points of order to have specific language removed from underlying legislation. (Senate Budget Committee) The final agreed upon Concurrent resolution passed in both chambers sets an overall top level spending figure (302(a) allocation) to guide appropriators as they craft the 12 individual appropriations bills. The chairs of the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate then each release a document setting their respective top line numbers for each of the 12 appropriations bills, known as 302(b) allocations, named after section 302(b) of the Congressional Budget Control Act. The 302(b) allocations outline the maximum spending levels for each of the 12 individual spending measures. It is not uncommon for the House and Senate to apportion funding differently and for the 302(b) allocations between the chambers to diverge. These differences usually get resolved during either a formal or informal conference committee between House and Senate Appropriators.
Definition: Outlays refers to the actual disbursement of funds by the U.S. Treasury to meet obligations incurred by the federal government. They are typically referred to as spending or expenditures.
Used in a sentence: “The U.S. government posted the widest monthly budget surplus in more than five years in June, as spending plunged 47 percent and a stronger economy lifted tax receipts, the Treasury Department said.
Receipts exceeded outlays by $116.5 billion last month, the biggest surplus since April 2008, compared with a $59.7 billion deficit in June 2012, the Treasury said today in Washington. The result exceeded the $115 billion median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 21 economists.” -Bloomberg
History: Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution states:
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”
In a textbook budget process, the President proposes a budget to Congress on a yearly basis in the beginning February. Subsequently, both the House and Senate propose and pass their own budgets and reconcile them to set “top-line” numbers for the relevant accounts within the federal government. These “budgets resolutions,” are not signed by the President, and do not carry the force of law. From these numbers, the House and Senate appropriations committees divide the allocations among the 12 subcommittees, thus determining the actual funding levels for each agency and program. These bills are signed by the President and carry the force of law. From this process the federal government is authorized to produce expenditures or outlaysto pay for the programs necessary to continue government operations.
In both Democratic and Republican administrations, the President’s use of executive power and actions – or inaction – by federal agencies have been criticized and scrutinized by members of Congress and the courts. Throughout his presidency, like his predecessors, President Obama has used his executive authority on recess appointments, executive orders, and to implement policy priorities. Federal agencies also have used their power to take actions in response to a deadlocked Congress. In his recent state of the union, President Obama made clear his intention to exercise his executive power to the maximum.
Are you curious about how the Executive Branch – the White House and federal agencies – is exerting power and influence over programs and policies, especially in the context of the current Congress and President Obama’s indication he plans to issue numerous executive orders? My colleagues, Scott Coffina and Charlie Rose, will provide a peek behind the curtain of the Executive Branch and share their respective experiences working in the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Please join us this Tuesday, March 25th – either in person or online – to learn about how interest groups can respond to both threats and opportunities stemming from the power being exerted by the Executive Branch. To RSVP, please click here.