Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill: Fact Sheet on Structure, Content, and Process

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 CRS-2 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 Paul Dwyer. Appropriation Process 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.