Government budget process and what went wrong

William R. Hawkins reviews the established process and compares to legislative action on the current budget to determin why a Failure of Appropriations Process Led to Shutdown.

“Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Though the President submits a budget to Congress, and the Congress is supposed to adopt a budget resolution setting aggregate limits, the appropriations process is not designed to legislate the budget as a single block of funds. The Congressional budget resolution breaks spending down to some 20 functional areas which are then dealt with in 12 bills prepared by subcommittees of the House and Senate appropriations committees. Traditionally, the House has initiated consideration of regular appropriations measures, with the Senate then considering and amending the House-passed bills. In many cases, the Senate substitutes is own bill for the House language as a single amendment.”

“So by “regular order” the House does have the right to “pick and choose” what parts of the government are going to be funded and by what amounts. And the Senate then has a right to agree or disagree with the House. The “power of the purse” is the central authority of the legislative branch. The disagreement between the two houses of Congress, controlled by rival parties, is what has closed down substantial parts of the government. The new 2014 Fiscal Year started on October 1 without a single appropriations bill having been enacted by Congress.”

You can find reason to support a ‘both sides to blame’ argument because the House only passed a few of the necessary budget bills. The other half of the story is that those bills were blocked in the Senate.

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