Legislation Development for the Federal Budget

Because enactment of legislation related to the federal government's annual budget is so crucial to the performance of government and to the well-being ofthe American people, special procedures have been developed to guide this process. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-344) and its subsequent amendments provide Congress with the process through which it establishes target levels for revenues, expenditures, and the overall deficit for the coming fiscal year.

The development of legislation for the federal budget is similar to the process through which all legislation is developed, but it differs in several important ways. First, because the Constitution requires that any bill raising revenue must originate in the House of Representatives, the House traditionally takes the lead in the budget process.

The second distinctive feature of the budget process is that the president's role in developing budget legislation is more formalized. The president is required by statute to submit a budget to Congress each year. By doing so, the president establishes the starting point and the framework of the annual process of legislation development for the federal budget.

The third difference between the budget process and the normal legislative process is that federal budget making is made up of three distinct stages. First, Congress drafts and approves a budget resolution that provides the framework for overall federal government taxation and spending for various programs and purposes for the upcoming year. Second, the programs and purposes are authorized by way of establishment, extension, or modification. This must take place before any money can be appropriated for a particular program or purpose, the third stage of federal budget making. The amount

Figure 6.2

Steps in the Federal Budget Process

SOURCE: American Public Health Association (2005). Copyright by the American Public Health Association and reprinted with their permission.

Figure 6.2

Steps in the Federal Budget Process

SOURCE: American Public Health Association (2005). Copyright by the American Public Health Association and reprinted with their permission.

of money authorized for a program or purpose is generally less than the actual amount appropriated for it.

The budget process is designed to coordinate decisions on sources and levels of federal revenues and on the objectives and levels of federal expenditures. Such decisions have a substantial impact on other policy decisions, including those that pertain to the health policy domain. Figure 6.2 shows, step by step, the process through which the annual federal budget is developed. The schedule begins when the president submits a proposed budget to Congress (see the first box in Figure 6.2). The Real World of Health Policy: The Federal Budget Process describes these steps in more detail.

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