Ideally, the annual federal budget process begins by the first Monday in February and ends on October 1st, the start of the government’s fiscal year. Unfortunately, the process has not been completed on time in several years, leaving the government starting its new fiscal year without an approved budget. In order to prevent a government shutdown, a series of “continuing resolutions” are usually approved by Congress to keep the wheels of government rolling until a budget agreement can be reached. Once again, in a perfect political world, the annual federal budget process would go as follows:
Before the First Monday in February:
The President’s Budget Proposal is submitted to Congress.
Six Weeks Later:
The Congressional committees report their budget estimates to Budget Committees.
By April 15:
The Congressional Budget Resolution should be approved.
By May 15:
The House and Senate should begin consideration of the annual appropriations (spending) bills.
By June 15:
Differences between House and Senate versions of the annual appropriations bills should have been resolved by a conference committee.
By June 30:
Congress should have approved the annual appropriations bills and sent them to the president.
By July 15:
The president transmits a Mid-Session Review of the budget to Congress.
On October 1:
The government’s new fiscal year begins and the new budget is implemented.