Congress must pass laws to appropriate money for the federal government. Congress’s approval is needed before departments and agencies of the ex- ecutive branch such as the Department of Defense or the Federal Communications Commission can actually spend money. How Congress Appropriates Money Congress follows a two-step procedure in appro- priating money—an authorization bill and an ap- propriations bill. Suppose the president signs a bill to build recreational facilities in the inner cities. CHAPTER 7: CONGRESS AT WORK 191 Congressional Funding An artist, commissioned by the Works Progress Administration, depicted California’s multi- ethnic workforce. In the mid- 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt convinced Congress to appropriate funds to a relief program for the unemployed. WPA artists created hundreds of pieces documenting the times. Why must agency heads testify before Con- gress to receive funding? Managing the Nation’s Purse Former head of the Na- tional Endowment for the Arts, Jane Alexander, tes- tifies before the Senate Labor Committee. See the following footnoted materials in the Reference Handbook: 1. The Constitution , pages 774–799. This first step in the legislation is an authorization bill. An authorization bill sets up a federal pro- gram and specifies how much money may be ap- propriated for that program. For example, one provision of this law limits the amount of money that can be spent on the program to $30 million a year. The recreation bill also specifies that the De- partment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will administer the program. HUD, how- ever, does not yet actually have any money to carry out the program. The second step in the appropriations proce- dure comes when HUD requests that Congress provide the $30 million. This kind of bill is an appropriations bill and provides the money needed to carry out the many laws Congress has passed. HUD’s request for the $30 million for the recreational facilities will be only one small item in the multibillion-dollar budget HUD will send to Congress for that year. HUD’s budget, in turn, will be part of the president’s total annual budget for the executive branch. Each year the president presents his budget to Congress. There the appropriations committees create their own appropriations bills. Congress might decide to (l)John Duricka/Wide World Photos, (r)James Prigoff
grant HUD only $15 million to carry out the building program. Next year, HUD would have to ask for another appropriation to continue the program. The Appropriations Committees The House and Senate appropriations committees and their subcommittees handle appropriations bills. Both the House and Senate appropriations com- mittees have 13 subcommittees that deal with the same policy areas in each house. Thus, the same appropriations subcommittees in the House of Representa- tives and the Senate would review the HUD budget, includ- ing its recreational fa- cility program as presented.
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