Order Code 98-472 GOV
Updated July 17, 2003
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
The Congressional Budget Process Timetable
Bill Heniff Jr.
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
The Congressional Budget Act (CBA) of 1974 (Titles I-IX of P.L. 93-344, 88 Stat.
297-332) established the congressional budget process, which coordinates the legislative
activities on the budget resolution, appropriations bills, reconciliation legislation, revenue
measures, and other budgetary legislation. Section 300 of this act provides a timetable
(see Table 1) so that Congress may complete its work on the budget by the start of the
fiscal year on October 1.
For more information on budget process, see
Table 1. The Congressional Budget Process Timetable
Action to be completed
First Monday in February
President submits budget to Congress.
Congressional Budget Office submits economic and budget
outlook report to Budget Committees.
Six weeks after President
Committees submit views and estimates to Budget Committees.
Senate Budget Committee reports budget resolution.
Congress completes action on budget resolution.
Annual appropriations bills may be considered in the House, even
if action on budget resolution has not been completed.
House Appropriations Committee reports last annual
House completes action on reconciliation legislation (if required
by budget resolution).
House completes action on annual appropriations bills.
President submits mid-session review of his budget to Congress.
Fiscal year begins.
The congressional budget process is initiated by the submission of the President’s
budget on or before the first Monday of February (31 U.S.C. 1105(a)). However, the
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
concurrent budget resolution is the centerpiece to the congressional budget process,
providing the framework for subsequent legislative action on the budget.
The congressional budget timetable sets April 15 as a target date for completion of
the annual budget resolution. However, Congress usually does not meet this deadline.
Since the timetable was established in 1974, Congress has met the budget resolution
deadline only six times during this 29-year period, most recently in 2003 for FY2004.
Under the original deadline (prior to 1986, the deadline was May 15), Congress adopted
the annual budget resolution on time twice, in 1975 and 1976. After the deadline was
changed to April 15 with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of
1985 (see Section 201(b) of P.L. 99-177, 99 Stat. 1040), Congress has met its deadline
four times, in 1993, 1999, 2000, and 2003. Further, Congress did not adopt a budget
resolution twice (in 1998 for FY1999 and in 2002 for FY2003).
Section 303(a) of the CBA prohibits any spending, revenue, or debt-limit legislation
for the upcoming fiscal year from being considered before a budget resolution has been
adopted. However, the House may consider annual appropriations bills after May 15 if
a budget resolution has not been adopted by then. In this case, the House Appropriations
Committee must rely on the Section 302 allocations in connection with the most recently
adopted budget resolution (i.e., the previous year’s budget resolution). The House and
Senate, however, may not consider any measure within the jurisdiction of the House and
Senate Appropriations Committees, respectively, providing new budget authority for a
fiscal year until the appropriations committees make and report their Section 302(b)
suballocations (see Section 302(c) of the CBA). Because the House historically initiates
appropriations measures, the congressional budget process timetable places deadlines on
the House Appropriations Committee and the entire House to complete action on the
annual appropriations bills.
When Congress includes reconciliation directives in the budget resolution, it also
includes instructions to one or more committees to submit their legislative
recommendations to their respective chamber’s Budget Committees by a certain date. In
addition, Congress may include a deadline by which the House must complete action on
reconciliation legislation, superseding the June 15 deadline in the Budget Act.
While the deadlines in the budget timetable generally are prescriptive, the 1974 CBA
sets forth procedural rules to encourage adherence to the timetable. First, Section 309
prohibits the consideration of a resolution providing for an adjournment period of more
than three calendar days during the month of July until the House has approved the annual
appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year. Second, if reconciliation legislation is
required by the budget resolution, Section 310(f) prohibits the consideration of a
resolution providing for an adjournment period of more than three calendar days as well
until the House has completed action on the reconciliation legislation.
The procedural rules set forth in the 1974 CBA are enforced by points of order.
However, these timing points of order are not self-enforcing and may be waived. In the
House, this usually is done by the adoption of a special rule reported by the Rules
Committee. In the Senate, a three-fifths vote is necessary to waive the requirement that
the Senate Appropriations Committee make its suballocations before the Senate may
consider any measure providing new budget authority for a fiscal year, but other points
of order related to timing may be waived by majority vote.