United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
The Senate Appropriations Committee is the largest committee in the U.S. Senate, with 30 members at the end of the 111th Congress. Its role is defined by the U.S. Constitution, which requires "appropriations made by law" prior to the expenditure of any money from the Treasury, and is therefore one of the most powerful committees in the Senate. The committee was first organized on March 6, 1867, when power over appropriations was taken out of the hands of the Finance Committee.
The chairperson of the Appropriations Committee has enormous power to bring home special projects (sometimes referred to as "pork barrel spending") for his or her state as well as having the final say on other senators' appropriation requests. For example, in fiscal year 2005 per capita federal spending in Alaska, the home state of then-Chairman Ted Stevens, was $12,000, double the national average. Alaska has 11,772 special earmarked projects for a combined cost of $15,780,623,000. This represents about four percent of the overall spending in the $388 billion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 passed by Congress.
Because of the power of this committee and the fact that senators represent entire states, not just parts of states, it is considered extremely difficult to unseat a member of this committee at an election - especially if he or she is a subcommittee chair, or "Cardinal". Since 1990, three members of this committee have gone on to serve as Senate Majority Leader for at least one session of Congress: Tom Daschle (committee member August 12, 1991 - December 10, 1999; Senate Majority Leader January 3 - 20, 2001 and June 6, 2001 - January 3, 2003), Bill Frist (committee member April 17, 1995 - December 29, 2002; Senate Majority Leader January 3, 2003 - January 3, 2007) and Harry Reid (committee member August 13, 1989 - December 23, 2006; subcommittee chair March 15, 1991 - December 24, 1994 and June 11, 2001 - December 22, 2002; Senate Majority Leader January 3, 2007 - current).
The appropriations process
The federal budget is divided into two main categories: discretionary spending and mandatory spending. Each appropriations subcommittee develops a draft appropriations bill covering each agency under its jurisdiction based on the Congressional Budget Resolution, which is drafted by an analogous Senate Budget committee. Each subcommittee must adhere to the spending limits set by the budget resolution and allocations set by the full Appropriations Committee, though the full Senate may vote to waive those limits if 60 senators vote to do so. The committee also reviews supplemental spending bills (covering unforeseen or emergency expenses not previously budgeted).
Each appropriations bill must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president prior to the start of the federal fiscal year, October 1. If that target is not met, as has been common in recent years, the committee drafts a continuing resolution, which is then approved by Congress and signed by the President to keep the federal government operating until the individual bills are approved.
|Majority (Democrat)||Minority (Republican)|
Committee reorganization during the 110th Congress
At the outset of the 110th Congress, Chairman Robert Byrd and Chairman Dave Obey, his counterpart on the House Appropriations Committee, developed a committee reorganization plan that provided for common subcommittee structures between both houses, a move that the both chairmen hope will allow Congress to "complete action on each of the government funding on time for the first time since 1994." The subcommittees were last overhauled between the 107th and 108th Congresses, after the creation of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security and again during the 109th Congress, when the number of subcommittees was reduced from 13 to 12.
A key part of the new subcommittee organization was the establishment of a new Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which consolidates funding for the Treasury Department, the United States federal judiciary, and the District of Columbia. These functions were previously handled by two separate Senate subcommittees.
- U.S. Budget process
- U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
- U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
- U.S. Senate Budget Committee
- Appropriations bill (United States)
- ^ "Overview of the Committee's role". U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Archived from the original on October 13, 2005. Retrieved October 14, 2005.
- ^ "Creation of the Senate Committee on Appropriations". U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Archived from the original on September 27, 2005. Retrieved October 14, 2005.
- ^ Courtney Mabeus. "Buying Leadership". Capital Eye. Retrieved October 14, 2005.
- ^ Rosenbaum, David E. (February 9, 2005). "Call it Pork or Necessity, but Alaska Comes Out Far Above the Rest in Spending". New York Times.
- ^ "Senate, House Appropriations Set Subcommittee Plans for New Congress". U.S. House Committee on Appropriations. Archived from the original on January 31, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2007.
- ^ "Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Rosters Set". National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Retrieved January 27, 2007.[dead link]
- ^ "Daniel Inouye Dies". Politico. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Frumin, Alan S. "Appropriations" in Riddick's Senate Procedure, 150–213. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1992.
- Munson, Richard. The Cardinals of Capitol Hill; The Men and Women Who Control Government Spending. Grove Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8021-1460-1.
- Senate Committee on Appropriations. United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, 1867–2008. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2008.
- Streeter, Sandy. The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2008.
- U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Official Website, appropriations.senate.gov
- Status of Appropriations Legislation, thomas.loc.gov
- Senate Appropriations Committee member profiles collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
- Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2011 by Congressional Research Service.