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Legislative Advocacy

Federal Level Government Relations
Federal Budget Process

General information - The federal budget is an annual process that is based on the federal fiscal year (FY) that runs from October 1st through September 30th. The process starts with the President and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) assembling the Executive Budget. The process continues with the submission of the Executive Budget to the Congress, where the House and the Senate each pass a budget resolution that sets broad spending parameters. With an agreed upon budget resolution, the House and the Senate each chamber will then proceed to pass appropriations bills that will allocate specific line items within the parameters set by the budget resolution. Appropriations bills deal with discretionary dollars only. Adjustments in mandatory, or entitlement, spending (i.e. Social Security) is made through a separate process called reconciliation. Once Congress finishes its work the President will then sign, or veto in total, the bill(s).

Timeframe - Below is a general timeline for the federal budget process. This process reflects approximate dates that are optimal to finishing the budget process in a timely fashion, however, slippage often occurs and these dates are missed. If Congress fails to finish the appropriations process by October 1 continuing resolutions will be passed to keep the government operating and outstanding appropriations bills are often combined into an omnibus bill to expedite action.

  • Spring (18 months prior to new FY) - OMB gives agencies guidance on budget requests

  • Nov-Dec (10 months prior to new FY) - President makes decisions on agency requests

  • First Monday in Feb (8 months prior to new FY) - President submits budget to Congress

  • March (7 months prior to new FY) - House & Senate Budget Committees develop budget resolutions

  • April 15 (6 ½ months prior to new FY) - Congress finishes work on budget resolution

  • May 15 (5 ½ months prior to new FY) - House begins work on annual appropriations bills

  • June 30 (3 months prior to new FY) - House completes action on House appropriation bills

  • July 1 - September 30 (up through new FY) - Senate completes action on appropriation bills & House-Senate conferees complete appropriation conference reports sending them to the full House and Senate

  • October 1 - New Fiscal Year begins

Key Budget-related Websites

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