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Congress's Budget Resolution

Congress Gets to Work on the U.S. Budget


Full House and Senate Consider Budget Resolution
The full House and Senate now debate, amend, and take action on the Budget Resolution as reported to them by their respective Budget Committee.

While the Budget Act sets no deadline for this phase, it does require that a final, single version of the Budget Resolution, agreed to by both House and Senate be approved by April 15.

House and Senate Work Out Differences in Conference
Since the versions of the Budget Resolution passed by the House and Senate will always differ, each body appoints conferees -- negotiators -- to meet and resolve the differences. The "conference committee" works to come up with a single, agreed version of the Budget Resolution that must be agreed to by at least half of the conferees from both the House and Senate.

Full House and Senate Consider Conference Agreement
The Budget Act requires that by April 15, both the House and Senate approve by majority votes the final version of the Budget Resolution reported by the conference committee.

The terms of the final, approved Budget Resolution govern the remainder of the budget process for the year.

Discretionary Spending Allocations Set by Congress
As a vital part of the Budget Resolution, Congress must agree on "spending allocations" or limits on how much money can be spent on discretionary programs during the coming fiscal year and at least the next 5 fiscal years. "Discretionary" funding refers specifically to money provided each year through the allocations process. Congress exercises control over how and how much money is spent, hence the term "discretionary". Discretionary spending usually represents about one-third of total annual Federal spending. Funds for programs to which the government is pre-committed to paying, like interest on the national debt and long-term entitlements, are called "uncontrollables".

Next: Congress Creates and Debates the Annual Spending Bills

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