Order Code 98-714 GOV
Updated July 16, 2003
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill: Fact
Sheet on Structure, Content, and Process
Lorraine H. Tong
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
The legislative branch appropriations bill is one of the regular appropriations bills
that Congress normally enacts each year for the fiscal year beginning on October 1. It
provides budget authority, which is statutory authority to spend specified amounts of
money, for expenditures of the legislative branch for the fiscal year, including salaries.
This bill funds the operations not only of Congress itself but also of its support agencies
and other entities within the legislative branch. For more information on legislative
process, see [http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml].
Congressional Operations and Related Agencies
Since the late 1970s, the legislative branch bill has contained two titles. Title I,
“Congressional Operations,” funds activities directly supporting Congress, including the
House, the Senate, joint items, the Capitol Police, the Congressional Budget Office, the
Congressional Research Service (within the Library of Congress), the Architect of the
Capitol (except Library of Congress buildings and grounds), and congressional printing
and binding done by the Government Printing Office. Title II, “Related Agencies,”
funded legislative branch entities that do not exclusively, or almost exclusively, support
Congress, including the remaining functions of the Library of Congress and the
Government Printing Office, Library buildings and grounds (under the Architect of the
Capitol), the General Accounting Office, and the Botanic Garden. Effective in FY2003,
Congress restructured the bill so that Title I now comprises all the above entities. Title
II now contains general provisions and funding for two activities: the John C. Stennis
Center for Public Service Training and Development, and the Congressional Award Act.
For FY2003, Title I is funded at $3.46 billion, and Title II at $546,000. Periodically, the
legislative branch bill might contain additional titles for special one-time activities.
For FY2003, the House account is funded at $960.9 million and the Senate account
at $663.4 million. These accounts provide budget authority for salaries and other
expenses for Member offices, leadership offices, officers and their employees, and
committees. Although the legislative branch appropriations bill funds committees
annually on a fiscal year basis, each chamber authorizes its committees (except House
Appropriations and Senate Ethics) for two years at a time through resolutions adopted
near the beginning of each Congress. Under the Joint Items account, $17.3 million in
budget authority was provided to fund the expenses and salaries of the joint committees,
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
the Office of the Attending Physician, the Capitol Guide and Special Services Office, and
for the preparation of statements of appropriations. Also in FY2003, the Capitol Police
is funded under a new separate account, “Capitol Police,” at $240.2 million.
Periodically, supplemental appropriations are needed to accommodate specific
purposes or activities, unexpected expenditures, or shortfalls. For FY2003, Congress
appropriated a total of $3.46 billion for legislative branch operations under P.L.108-7, the
Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003, that also required an across the board cut,
and P.L. 108-11, the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act that included
$125 million for the legislative branch. For a detailed examination of legislative branch
funding, see CRS Report RL31812, Appropriations for FY2004: Legislative Branch, by
Most of the annual general appropriations bills fund activities of executive branch
agencies, and the amounts of budget authority requested for those agencies in the
President’s annual budget represent spending levels proposed by the President. For
legislative branch expenses, however, as a matter of comity between the branches, the
President’s budget simply presents estimates submitted by Congress. These estimates are
developed by the Senate and House, including the leadership and the Appropriations
Committees, and by legislative support agencies. As with other appropriations bills, the
House and Senate Subcommittees on the Legislative Branch each hold hearings, at which
the heads of legislative entities and the respective chamber’s administrative officers
provide budget requests, justifications, and explanations.
The House Appropriations Committee, which traditionally originates appropriations
bills, reports a legislative branch appropriations bill that includes funding only for the
House, joint items, and other legislative branch entities. As a matter of comity, the House
leaves Senate funding to be added to the bill in the Senate. The Senate Appropriations
Committee and the Senate also propose alterations in funding levels for joint items and
other legislative branch entities, but customarily make no revisions in House items. As
with other appropriations bills, differences between House and Senate versions may be
reconciled in a House-Senate conference committee. The President customarily signs the
legislative branch bill without questioning the spending levels Congress has determined.
Permanent Budget Authority; Trust Funds
There are legislative branch budget authorities not included in the legislative branch
appropriations act. These include permanent budget authorities and trust funds.
Permanent appropriations are made available in the amounts necessary for the purposes
specified as the result of previously enacted legislation, and do not require annual action.
These permanent appropriations include compensation of Members, congressional use of
foreign currencies, international conference expenses, and Library of Congress payments
to copyright owners. Trust funds are monies held in accounts credited with collections
from sources specified by law for defined purposes. Trust funds include gifts and
donations to the Library of Congress and the Architect of the Capitol (Botanic Garden),
and funds held by the U.S. Capitol Preservation Commission.