Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021




Appropriations Subcommittee Structure:
History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

Updated February 8, 2021
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
RL31572




Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

Summary
This report details the evolution of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’
subcommittee structure from the 1920s to the present. In 1920, the House adopted a change in its
rules to consolidate jurisdiction over al appropriations in the Appropriations Committee. After
the enactment of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the House reorganized its
Appropriations Committee by establishing for the first time a set of subcommittees to consider
appropriations bil s based on the administrative organization of the executive branch. The Senate
followed suit in 1922, and the two chambers have continued under that basic organizational
approach since that time.
It is possible to divide the evolution of the modern Appropriations subcommittee structure into
four eras. The first era, stretching roughly from the initial reorganization in the 1920s until the
end of the Second World War, was marked by stability. Most of the changes in Appropriations
structure resulted from combining bil s (e.g., the Treasury Department bil with the Post Office
Department bil beginning in 1924), although one new bil (and subcommittee) was created when
the appropriations bil for the Department of Labor was split off from the Departments of State,
Justice, Commerce, and Labor bil in 1939.
The second era, from the end of the Second World War through 1970, saw a number of significant
changes. During this period, Congress attempted to keep pace with executive branch
reorganizations (e.g., creation of subcommittees to consider appropriations for the new
Departments of Defense in 1947 and Transportation in 1967) and changing national priorities
(e.g., creation of a separate appropriations bil , and later subcommittee, for foreign operations).
The third era, from 1971 through 2003, was marked by a renewed stability. While some
appropriations subcommittees were renamed to reflect changes in agency and departmental status,
these changes did not represent major shifts in jurisdiction.
Following major changes in organization involving nearly every subcommittee in the 108th, 109th,
and 110th Congresses, the two chambers have once again settled into an era of stable organization.
In 2003, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees merged their subcommittees on
Transportation and Treasury and created new subcommittees to consider appropriations for the
newly created Department of Homeland Security. In 2005, both chambers undertook major
reorganizations, eliminating three subcommittees in the House and one in the Senate. This
reorganization, however, left the two chambers with differing subcommittee jurisdictions. In 2007
the two Appropriations Committees reorganized again to reestablish paral el subcommittees that
have remained in place since.
During the first session of the 110th Congress (2007), the House created the Select Intel igence
Oversight Panel of the appropriations committee to oversee spending on federal intel igence
activities. This panel was eliminated in 2011 at the beginning of the 112th Congress.
This report wil be updated to reflect any changes in Appropriations subcommittee structure.
Congressional Research Service

link to page 4 link to page 4 link to page 5 link to page 8 link to page 9 link to page 9 link to page 9 link to page 9 link to page 10 link to page 10 link to page 10 link to page 10 link to page 11 link to page 11 link to page 11 link to page 11 link to page 12 link to page 16 Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1
Evolution of the Number and Jurisdictions of Appropriations Bills Prior to 1920 ................. 1
Reconsolidation and Initial Stability: 1920-1946 .................................................................. 2
Reorganization and Multiple Changes: 1947-1970................................................................ 5
Subcommittee Development........................................................................................ 6
Government Corporations...................................................................................... 6
Public Works ....................................................................................................... 6
Deficiencies ........................................................................................................ 6
Department of Defense.......................................................................................... 7
Military Construction............................................................................................ 7

Legislative Branch................................................................................................ 7
Foreign Operations ............................................................................................... 7
Commerce........................................................................................................... 8
General Government............................................................................................. 8
Transportation...................................................................................................... 8

Stability: 1971-2002 ........................................................................................................ 8
Major Changes and Renewed Stability: 2003-Present ........................................................... 9

Contacts
Author Information ....................................................................................................... 13

Congressional Research Service

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

Introduction
Article I, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution provides, “No money shal be drawn from the
Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” The Constitution does not,
however, prescribe any specific structure or process for making appropriations. The committee
structure established by Congress during the 20th century assigns a prominent role to the
Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate for both the development of appropriations
legislation and oversight over budget execution. The Appropriations Committees, in turn, have
created a system of subcommittees designed to facilitate their ability to carry out these tasks.
House Rule X, clause 5(b)(2)(B), limits the House Appropriations Committee to no more than 13
subcommittees, but the organization of appropriations subcommittees is determined by the
committee.
This report details the evolution of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’
subcommittee structure from the 1920s to the present.
Evolution of the Number and Jurisdictions of Appropriations Bills
Prior to 1920
The number and jurisdictions of appropriations bil s have evolved to meet changing needs and
circumstances. In the First Congress (1789-1791) al of the appropriations for the support of the
government were made in a single appropriations bil . In 1794, that single appropriations bil was
split up into two bil s, one for Civil and Diplomatic expenses and the other for the Military and
Naval Establishments. In 1799, the Military and Naval Establishments bil was further split into
two separate bil s for the Naval Establishment and the Military Establishment.
As Congress moved to a system of standing committees with defined jurisdictions in the early
19th century, a permanent Committee of Ways and Means1 was established in the Seventh
Congress (1801-1803) with jurisdiction over “the laws making appropriations of moneys.”2
Additional appropriations measures were created beginning with the establishment of a separate
bil for Fortifications in 1823, Pensions and Rivers and Harbors in 1826, the Military Academy in
1834, Indian Affairs in 1837, and Post Office and Post Roads in 1844. In 1856 the Civil and
Diplomatic appropriations bil was split into two separate bil s—the Civil appropriations bil and
the Consular and Diplomatic appropriations bil —and the following year, the Civil appropriations
bil was further divided into the Legislative, Executive and Judicial appropriations bil and the
Sundry Civil appropriations bil .
In order to meet the workload demands imposed during the Civil War, the Committee of Ways
and Means established jurisdictional subcommittees to deal with broad areas of revenue,
appropriations, and banking and currency.3 In 1865, the House adopted an amendment to its rules
formal y dividing the jurisdiction of the committee by establishing new committees for the 39th

1 T he committee was not referred to as the Committee on Ways and Means until 1880. Donald R. Kennon, U.S. House
of Representatives, The Com m ittee on Ways and Means: A Bicentennial History, 1789 -1989, H.Doc. 100-244
(Washington, DC: GPO, 1990) (hereinafter cited as Ways and Means Com m ittee History), p. 35.
2 Standing Rules of the House of Representatives, adopted January 7, 1802, cited in Ways and Means Committee
History
, p. 59.
3 Ways and Means Committee History, pp. 176-177.
Congressional Research Service

1

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

Congress (1865-1867) to deal with appropriations and banking and currency, eliminating the need
for these subcommittees.4
In the 45th Congress (1877-1879), jurisdiction over the Rivers and Harbors bil was shared by the
Appropriations Committee and the Commerce Committee, with the Commerce Committee
getting sole jurisdiction in the 46th Congress (1879-1881). In addition, beginning in the 46th
Congress, the Appropriations Committee began to report District of Columbia appropriations as a
separate regular appropriations bil , and the Agriculture Committee began to exercise jurisdiction
over a regular appropriations bil for the Department of Agriculture. In the 48th Congress, a Rivers
and Harbors Committee was created that exercised jurisdiction over the Rivers and Harbors bil .
It was during this era that the Appropriations Committees began to establish regular
subcommittees to play a central role in drafting and managing the consideration of one of the
regular appropriations bil s.5
The rules adopted by the House for the 49th Congress decentralized jurisdiction over
appropriations bil s more broadly, leaving the Appropriations Committee with jurisdiction over
five of the regular bil s—the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial; Sundry Civil; Fortifications;
Pensions; and District of Columbia bil s—as wel as deficiencies. Jurisdiction over the other
regular bil s was assigned to the Military Affairs Committee (Military Establishment and Military
Academy), Naval Affairs Committee (Naval Establishment), Post Office Committee (Post Office
and Post Roads), Rivers and Harbors Committee (Rivers and Harbors), Indian Affairs Committee
(Indian Department), Agriculture Committee (Agriculture Department), and Foreign Affairs
Committee (Diplomatic and Consular).6 A similar dispersal of appropriations jurisdiction was
later adopted in the Senate as wel .7
Reconsolidation and Initial Stability: 1920-1946
By the end of the First World War, the idea that the President should play a prominent role in a
more centralized budgetary process gained prominence, ultimately resulting in passage of the
Budget and Accounting Act of 1921.8 In anticipation of the more centralized executive budget

4 Congressional Globe, March 2, 1865, pp. 1311-1317. T he Senate later took similar action. According to the Senate
Appropriations Committee website, “At the beginning of the Fortieth Congress in March 1867, Senator Henry B.
Anthony of Rhode Island offered a Senate resolution providing for the creation of ‘... a Committee on Appropriations,
to consist of seven members.’ His purpose was ‘to divide the onerous labors of the Finance Committee with another
committee’ by separating the tax-writing and appropriating processes. T he House had already established an
Appropriations Committee two years earlier. Without further discussion, Anthony’s resolution was considered by
unanimous consent and agreed to, giving birth to the Senate Committee on App ropriations on March 6, 1867”
(https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/about/history).
5 T here is no known contemporary source that comprehensively identifies the membership of appropriations
subcommittees in this era. However, in some cases this information has been compiled from hearing records or
informal, unpublished committee materials. T he most comprehensive published compilation of Senate subcommittee
membership is published in U.S. Senate, Com m ittee on Appropriations, United States Senate, 1867 -2008, S.Doc. 100-
14 (Washington, DC, GPO: 2008), pp. 131-202.
6 Congressional Record, vol. 17 (December 14-18), 1885. For more on the appropriations process in this era, see
Charles H. Stewart, Budget Reform Politics: The Design of the Appropriations Process in the House of
Representatives, 1865-1921
(Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
7 Eric Schickler and John Sides, “Intergenerational Warfare: T he Senate Decentralizes Appropriations,” Legislative
Studies Quarterly
, vol. 25, no. 4 (November 2000), pp. 551-575.
8 P.L. 13, 67th Congress, 42 Stat. 20-27. Provisions of the act, as amended, including requirements for the President’s
budget submission, are now codified at T itle 31 of the U.S. Code.
Congressional Research Service

2

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

system provided under the act, the House also changed its rules to require that al appropriations
be reported from the Appropriations Committee.9
In addition to the reconsolidation of appropriations jurisdiction, the Appropriations Committee
subsequently reorganized the appropriations bil s and its subcommittees. Prior to the
reconsolidation of jurisdiction, the organization of appropriations bil s tended to be along topical
lines. For example, while the military activities of the War Department were considered in
appropriations bil s reported by the Military Affairs Committee, and the activities of the Corps of
Engineers were considered in River and Harbor appropriations bil s reported by the Commerce
Committee, the salaries and contingent expenses for the civilian administration of the department
were carried in the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial bil , which was within the jurisdiction of
the Appropriations Committee. A similar division existed for most departments and was true even
for agencies whose appropriations were wholly within the jurisdiction of the Appropriations
Committee. Funding for the activities of agencies as disparate as the Interstate Commerce
Commission, the Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Mines was carried in the Sundry Civil bill,
which was frequently the largest of the general appropriations bil s. Nevertheless, their salaries
and expenses were general y funded in the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial bil .10
When the Bureau of the Budget11 compiled the first presidential budget submission under the
Budget and Accounting Act, it recommended that appropriations bil s be reorganized along
administrative lines, with appropriations for salaries and expenses included in the same bil as
funding for programs and activities administered by a department. This arrangement had
previously existed only for the Department of Agriculture appropriations bil . Beginning with the
FY1923 appropriations bil s, the House Appropriations Committee adopted the Bureau of the
Budget’s concept and reorganized the structure of general appropriations bil s and its
subcommittees so extensively that only the structure of the Agriculture bil remained essential y
unchanged.
After this reorganization, the House Appropriations Committee comprised the following
subcommittees:
1. Agriculture Department;
2. Commerce and Labor Departments;
3. Deficiencies;12
4. District of Columbia;
5. Independent Offices (including the Executive Office of the President);
6. Interior Department;
7. Legislative Establishment;

9 H.Res. 324, 66th Congress. “Change in the Rules of the House,” Congressional Record, vol. 59 (June 1, 1920), pp.
8102-8121.
10 Ibid.
11 T he Bureau of the Budget was established by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (P.L. 13, 67th Congress, 42
Stat. 20-27). T he Bureau of the Budget was renamed the Office of Management and Budget in 1970.
12 Unlike with the other subcommittees, the Deficiencies Subcommittee’s jurisdiction remained essentially topical.
Rather than provide funding for an established group of agencies and programs in a single annual bill, its jurisdiction
frequently involved multiple bills. T hese bills provided supplemental appropriations for various unanticipated needs of
programs otherwise funded in regular appropriations. However, the subcommittee was also responsible for funding
additional items not already provided in regular appropriations bills and financed obligations already entered into in
advance of appropriations authority (such as the Lend-Lease program during World War II).
Congressional Research Service

3

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

8. Navy Department and the Navy;
9. Post Office Department;
10. State and Justice Departments (including the judiciary);
11. Treasury Department; and
12. War Department and the Army (including both military and civil functions).13
By long-standing custom, the House originates al general appropriations bil s.14 As a
consequence, historical y, the House has general y determined the initial content of the bil s. By
originating appropriations bil s corresponding to its new administratively based organizational
structure, the House created a jurisdictional problem for the Senate, which retained a system
based on topical organization of appropriations bil s, as wel as multiple committees sharing
jurisdiction over general appropriations bil s. Confronted with the difficulty of considering the
reorganized appropriations bil s with its now outmoded system, the Senate reorganized its
appropriations jurisdiction and subcommittees in 1922.15
Information available on congressional subcommittees, including those of the Appropriations
Committees, is general y sparse and unsystematic prior to enactment of the Legislative
Reorganization Act of 1946.16 From available hearings and other committee documents, however,
it appears that during this era the Appropriations Committees continued the practice of each
subcommittee (other than the Deficiencies Subcommittee) being responsible for drafting one of
the regular appropriations bil s.17 Using data on appropriations bil s to identify subcommittee
structure during this period, one may conclude that the subcommittee structure of the
Appropriations Committees was relatively stable. Other than name changes, the salient changes in
appropriations bil structure (and, presumably, subcommittee structure) between 1922 and 1946
seem to have been limited to the following:
 The combination of the bil s for the Treasury and Post Office Departments
beginning in the second session of the 68th Congress (1924);18
 The combination of the Commerce and Labor Departments bil with the State and
Justice Departments bil beginning in the second session of the 68th Congress
(1924);19

13 Civil functions consisted largely of the work of the Army Corps of Engineers, such as river and harbor projec ts, flood
control, and maintenance of the Panama Canal.
14 For more on the origination of general appropriations bills, see CRS Report R46558, The Origination Clause of the
U.S. Constitution: Interpretation and Enforcem ent
, by James V. Saturno.
15 S.Res. 213, 67th Congress. For its consideration by the Senate, see “Consideration of Appropriations Bills,”
Congressional Record, vol. 62 (March 1-March 4, March 6, 1922), pp. 3199-3207, 3279-3291, 3331-3344, 3375-3392,
3400, 3418-3432.
16 P.L. 601, 79th Congress, 60 Stat. 812-852.
17 In addition, there appear to have been occasional subcommittees established for special purposes, such as a House
Appropriations Subcommittee on Permanent Appropriatio ns during the 73rd Congress (1933-1934), which was
responsible for recommending the repeal of various permanent appropriations.
18 In the 68th Congress (1923-1924), the Senate subcommittee maintained subunits for separate consideration of
T reasury and Post Office items respectively, although a single bill was considered.
19 In the 68th Congress (1923-1924), the Senate subcommittee maintained subunits for separate consideration of State
and Justice and Commerce and Labor items respectively, although a single bill was considered.
Congressional Research Service

4

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

 The separation of the War Department and Army bil into two bil s, one for the
Military Establishment and the other for War Department Civil Functions,
beginning in the first session of the 75th Congress (1937);20
 The separation of the Labor Department (and the Federal Security Agency)21
from the Departments of State, Justice, Commerce, and Labor bil beginning in
the first session of the 76th Congress (1939);22 and
 The inclusion of the Judiciary in the Legislative Branch bil during the 78th
Congress (1943-1944).
Reorganization and Multiple Changes: 1947-1970
One of the chief aims of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 was to bring about a
modernization of Congress’s committee system, including its subcommittees. As a result, unlike
the earlier period, information on subcommittee structure since 1946 is more readily available. In
the 80th Congress (1947-1948), the Appropriations Committees in both chambers had these 12
subcommittees:
1. Agriculture;
2. Deficiencies;
3. District of Columbia;
4. Government Corporations;
5. Independent Offices;
6. Interior Department;
7. Legislative;
8. State, Justice, and Commerce Departments and the Judiciary;
9. Treasury Department and Post Office;
10. Labor Department and Federal Security Agency;
11. War Department; and
12. Navy Department.
The idea of modernizing congressional committee structure and operations embodied in the
Legislative Reorganization Act was paral eled by an interest in developing a more modern federal
administrative apparatus to supplant the one that had grown in episodic bursts to meet the

20 However, from available congressional documents it does not appear that this division was reflected in a similar
change in the subcommittee structure. During the debate on the civil functions bill, Rep. J. Buell Snyder simply
remarked that Rep. James P. Buchanan, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, had directed that the estimates
for the War Department be handled in two separate measures (Congressional Record, vol. 81 [June 15, 1937], p. 5733).
In the 80th Congress, (1947-1948), for which there is reliable information on Appropriations subcommittee structure,
there was a single subcommittee and separate military establishment and civil function bills.
21 T he Federal Security Agency was established by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1939, group ing the Office of
Education, Public Health Service, Social Security Board, U.S. Employment Service, Civilian Conservation Corps, and
National Youth Administration. T he agency was abolished by Reorganization Plan No. 7 of 1953, and its functions
were transferred to the newly created Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
22 T his change in bill structure, however, reflected a change in the subcommittee structure of the House only. T he
Senate maintained a single subcommittee for consideration of separate appropriations bills for the Departments of
State, Justice, and Commerce and Department of Labor-Federal Security Agency until the first session of the 80th
Congress (1947).
Congressional Research Service

5

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

chal enges of the Depression and World War II. Because appropriations bil s continued to be
organized along administrative lines, these changes in the executive branch had an impact on
appropriations subcommittee structure. The four changes in party control of the House between
1947 and 1955 also contributed to an environment conducive to revision of appropriations
subcommittee jurisdiction. This evolution saw the number of subcommittees fluctuate between a
low of 1023 and a high of 15.24 Despite this fluctuation, it appears that the Appropriations
Committees general y continued the practice of each subcommittee being responsible for drafting
one of the regular appropriations bil s.25
Subcommittee Development
Appropriations Subcommittees that were created, abolished, or reorganized from the 80th
Congress through the 91st Congress (1947-1970) are as follows:
Government Corporations
A subcommittee (and appropriations bil ) specifical y pertaining to government corporations
operated in both the House and Senate during the 80th Congress (1947-1948).
Public Works
Jurisdiction over Army civil functions was transferred to the Deficiencies Subcommittees in both
the House and Senate for the 81st Congress (1949-1950). The Senate subsequently transferred
jurisdiction over deficiencies to the full committee and established a separate subcommittee for
Army civil functions in the 82nd Congress, which lasted through the 83rd (1951-1954). The House
continued to operate a Deficiencies and Army Civil Functions Subcommittee in the 82nd Congress
(1951-1952) but transferred jurisdiction over deficiencies to the full committee and created a
subcommittee combining Army civil functions with military construction in the 83rd Congress
(1953-1954). A Public Works Subcommittee (including the Army civil functions as wel as the
Atomic Energy Commission, Bureau of Reclamation, and power marketing administrations) was
established by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees beginning in the first
session of the 84th Congress (1955). The Senate maintained separate subunits within the Public
Works Subcommittee to consider matters related to the Atomic Energy Commission and
Tennessee Val ey Authority and related to the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of the
Interior power marketing associations. These subunits operated beginning in the 84th Congress
(1955-1956), continuing through the 90th Congress (1967-1968). In most fiscal years, a single bil
was reported from the subcommittee, but appropriations for the Atomic Energy Commission were
considered in a separate measure for FY1957-FY1960.
Deficiencies
A separate subcommittee to consider deficiencies was discontinued in the Senate after the 81st
Congress (1949-1950) and in the House after the 82nd Congress (1951-1952). Jurisdiction over
deficiencies and supplemental appropriations was subsequently exercised by the full committee.

23 In the House during the 81st and 82nd Congresses (1949-1952) and in the Senate during the 81st through 83rd
Congresses (1949-1954).
24 In the House during the 86th and 87th Congresses (1959-1962).
25 T here were exceptions to this, for example, in cases when the Senate committee did not immediately alter its
appropriations subcommittee structure to mirror that of the House. In addition, in 1950, a single omnibus
appropriations bill was considered comprising titles recommended by the subcommittees.
Congressional Research Service

6

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

A Deficiencies Subcommittee was reestablished by the House Appropriations Committee for the
86th through 88th Congresses (1959-1964), after which the jurisdiction was again exercised by the
full committee. The Senate Subcommittee on Deficiencies was reestablished for the second
session of the 87th Congress and met through the 91st Congress (1962-1970).
Department of Defense
The War and Navy Departments were consolidated to create a National Military Establishment
(later the Department of Defense) during the first session of the 80th Congress (1947),26 and their
respective appropriations subcommittees were combined to create an Armed Services
Subcommittee at the beginning of the 81st Congress (1949). Renamed the Department of Defense
Subcommittee in the first session of the 84th Congress (1955), the House Subcommittee
maintained three separate subunits for consideration of Army, Navy, and Air Force matters during
the 84th and 85th Congresses (1955-1958), and the Senate maintained a separate subunit for
intel igence activities between the 91st and 94th Congresses (1968-1976). During these years, there
continued to be a single Department of Defense appropriations bil .
Military Construction
Military construction was considered part of the Defense Appropriations bil prior to the 83rd
Congress. Between the 83rd Congress and the first session of the 85th Congress (1953-1957),
appropriations for military construction were carried primarily in deficiency and supplemental
appropriations measures. In the 83rd Congress (1953-1954), the House operated a Civil Functions
and Military Construction Subcommittee, but it is otherwise not clear whether military
construction matters were considered by a subcommittee in this period. A separate Military
Construction Subcommittee was created by the House Appropriations Committee beginning in
the second session of the 85th Congress (1958), and a separate bil for military construction
matters was considered for the first time that same year. The Senate Appropriations Committee
established a separate subunit for military construction within the Defense Subcommittee in the
86th Congress (1959-1960) and then a separate subcommittee beginning in the first session of the
87th Congress (1961).
Legislative Branch
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees established a subcommittee to consider both
legislative and judiciary matters in the 83rd Congress (1953-1954). The two chambers
subsequently returned to the former practice of a separate Legislative Subcommittee, with
judiciary matters being considered by the same subcommittee as the Departments of State,
Justice, and Commerce beginning in the first session of the 84th Congress (1955).
Foreign Operations
A separate bil to fund foreign aid programs (cal ed the Mutual Security bil between the 82nd and
86th Congresses) was considered beginning in the second session of the 80th Congress (1948),
with jurisdiction exercised by the full committee in both the House and Senate. A separate
subcommittee was established by the House Appropriations Committee beginning in the first
session of the 84th Congress (1955). Foreign operations jurisdiction continued to be exercised at
the full committee level by the Senate Appropriations Committee until the first session of the 91st
Congress (1969).

26 P.L. 253, 80th Congress, 61 Stat. 495-510.
Congressional Research Service

7

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

Commerce
Jurisdiction over Commerce Department appropriations was exercised by a separate
subcommittee in the 84th through 86th Congresses (1955-1960). The subcommittee’s jurisdiction
was combined with the General Government Subcommittee for the first session of the 87th
Congress (1961). Beginning in the second session of the 87th Congress (1962), jurisdiction was
transferred to a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the State, Justice, and Commerce
Departments and the judiciary.
General Government
In the House, a separate subcommittee was established for general government matters (including
the Executive Office of the President) in the 84th through 86th Congress (1955-1960). In the
Senate, jurisdiction over general government matters was exercised by a Subcommittee on
Independent Offices and General Government Matters beginning in the 84th Congress (1955-
1956), although separate appropriations bil s for independent offices and general government
matters were considered. In both the House and Senate, jurisdiction over general government
matters was combined with the Commerce Department Subcommittee in the first session of the
87th Congress (1961). Jurisdiction over general government matters was subsequently combined
with the Treasury Department and Post Office Subcommittee in both chambers beginning in the
second session of the 87th Congress (1962).
Transportation
A separate subcommittee was established to consider appropriations for the newly created
Transportation Department by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees beginning
in the 90th Congress (1967).
Stability: 1971-2002
With the creation of the Transportation Subcommittee by the House Appropriations Committee in
1967, the total number of appropriations subcommittees in the House stabilized at 13. The last
subcommittee added in the Senate was the Foreign Operations Subcommittee in 1969, bringing
the total in that body to 14. Once the Subcommittee on Deficiencies in the Senate was eliminated
at the end of the 91st Congress (1970), the two chambers’ appropriations subcommittee structures
both totaled 13 and remained paral el during this period.
There were no additions, and few major changes, in the subcommittee structure of either the
House or Senate Appropriations Committees between 1971 and 2002. The changes that did occur
were primarily changes in subcommittee names to reflect changes in agency and departmental
status. For example, the title of the Independent Offices bil evolved with the creation of the
Departments of Housing and Urban Development in 1965 and Veterans’ Affairs in 1988, the
Public Works bil became known as the Energy and Water bil after the creation of the
Department of Energy in 1977, and the title of the Departments of Labor and Health Education
and Welfare was modified to reflect the creation of a separate Department of Education in 1979.
However, these changes did not represent major shifts in appropriations subcommittee
jurisdictions.
At the beginning of the 107th Congress, the House and Senate had the following 13
subcommittees:
1. Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies;
Congressional Research Service

8

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

2. Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary;
3. Subcommittee on Defense;
4. Subcommittee on the District of Columbia;
5. Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development;
6. Subcommittee on Foreign Operations;
7. Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies;
8. Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related
Agencies;
9. Subcommittee on Legislative Branch;
10. Subcommittee on Military Construction;
11. Subcommittee on Transportation;
12. Subcommittee on Treasury and General Government; and
13. Subcommittee on Veteran’s Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and
Independent Agencies.
Major Changes and Renewed Stability: 2003-Present
In response to the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in January 2003,
the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee announced that a new appropriations
subcommittee would be created.27 This new subcommittee, consolidating appropriations
jurisdiction from eight existing subcommittees over the various entities comprising the DHS, was
the first major reorganization of appropriations subcommittee structure in over 30 years and one
of the most extensive reorganizations of the Appropriations Committee since the 1920s. Shortly
thereafter, a similar change was made in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The new subcommittee was formal y established when the committee organized for the 108th
Congress in February 2003. In order to keep the number of appropriations subcommittees at 13,
the committee also merged the subcommittees responsible for Department of Transportation
appropriations with that responsible for Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government
appropriations. The Senate Appropriations Committee made a similar change when it organized
in March 2003.
At the beginning of the 109th Congress (2005), the House Appropriations Committee undertook
another substantial reorganization, reducing the number of subcommittees from 13 to 10.28 This
reduction was achieved by eliminating the Subcommittees on the Legislative Branch, District of
Columbia, and the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and
Independent Agencies (VA-HUD). The jurisdiction over the Legislative Branch appropriations
bil was retained by the full committee, and the following major changes were made in House
appropriations subcommittee organization:
 A new subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs was
created. This was accomplished by combining the previous jurisdiction of the
Military Construction subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of
Veterans Affairs (formerly exercised by the VA-HUD subcommittee), as wel as

27 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, “Chairman Young Announces Homeland Security
Reorganization,” press release, January 29, 2003.
28 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, “Chairman Lewis Major Reorganization of the House
Appropriations Committee and Slate of Subcommittee Ch airmen,” press release, February 9, 2005.
Congressional Research Service

9

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

those portions of the Department of Defense concerning the Defense Health
Program and military facilities sustainment and housing accounts.
 The former Transportation and Treasury subcommittee gained jurisdiction over
three new areas: The Department of Housing and Urban Development was
transferred from the eliminated VA-HUD subcommittee; the federal judiciary
was transferred from the former Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary
subcommittee; and jurisdiction over the District of Columbia was transferred
from the eliminated District of Columbia subcommittee.
 Jurisdiction over NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of
Science and Technology Policy was transferred from the eliminated VA-HUD
subcommittee to the newly named Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and
Commerce, and Related Agencies.
 Jurisdiction over other agencies formerly exercised by the VA-HUD
Subcommittee was transferred to the Interior Subcommittee (the Environmental
Protection Agency) and Labor-HHS Subcommittee (AmeriCorps).
 Jurisdiction over Weatherization Assistance Grants exercised by the Labor-HHS
Subcommittee, and energy-related accounts exercised by the Interior
Subcommittee, was transferred to the Energy and Water Development
Subcommittee.
This reorganization left the House with the following 10 subcommittees:
1. Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies;
2. Subcommittee on Defense;
3. Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies;
4. Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs;
5. Subcommittee on Homeland Security;
6. Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies;
7. Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related
Agencies;
8. Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs and Related
Agencies;
9. Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce, and Related Agencies;
and
10. Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban
Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia.
The Senate Appropriations Committee subsequently adopted a reorganization plan as wel ,
eliminating the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and
Independent Agencies and making the following major changes:
 Jurisdiction over Veterans Affairs was transferred to the Subcommittee on
Military Construction.
 Jurisdiction over the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the
federal judiciary was transferred to the former Subcommittee on Transportation,
Treasury and General Government.
Congressional Research Service

10

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

 Jurisdiction over NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of
Science and Technology Policy was transferred to the former Subcommittee on
Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary.
 Jurisdiction over AmeriCorps was transferred to the Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
 Jurisdiction over the Environmental Protection Agency was transferred to the
Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies.
 Jurisdiction over energy related accounts formerly exercised by the Interior
Subcommittee was transferred to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water
Development.
 Jurisdiction over the State Department was transferred to the former
Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.
This reorganization left the Senate with the following 12 subcommittees:
1. Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies;
2. Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science;
3. Subcommittee on Defense;
4. Subcommittee on the District of Columbia;
5. Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development;
6. Subcommittee on Homeland Security;
7. Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies;
8. Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related
Agencies;
9. Subcommittee on Legislative Branch;
10. Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs;
11. Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and
12. Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary, and Housing and Urban
Development.
At the beginning of the 110th Congress (2007), further major changes were made as follows:
 Jurisdiction over the Departments of Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and
Urban Affairs was divided to create subcommittees in both chambers on
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies and on
Financial Services and General Government (including the Treasury Department,
the Judiciary, the Executive Office of the President, the Office of Personnel
Management, the Postal Service, the District of Columbia, and other related
agencies, such as the Federal Elections Commission, Federal Trade Commission,
Securities and Exchange Commission, and Smal Business Administration).
 Jurisdiction over defense health programs and military facilities sustainment and
housing accounts was transferred from the House Military Quality of Life
subcommittee to the Defense subcommittee.
 Jurisdiction over the State Department was transferred from the House Science,
State, Justice and Commerce, and Related Agencies subcommittee to the Foreign
Operations subcommittee.
Congressional Research Service

11

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

In addition, the House reestablished a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the legislative branch,
and the Senate eliminated a separate subcommittee on the District of Columbia. The
reorganization left the two chambers with the following 12 subcommittees:29
1. Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies;
2. Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;
3. Subcommittee on Defense;
4. Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies;
5. Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government;
6. Subcommittee on the Department of Homeland Security;
7. Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies;
8. Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies;
9. Subcommittee on Legislative Branch;
10. Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies;
11. Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs;
12. Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and
Related Agencies.
These 12 subcommittees continue to remain in place for the 117th Congress. In most respects, the
jurisdictions of subcommittees for both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have
been paral el since this organization was established in 2007. The one salient exception is
jurisdiction over funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). In the House,
funding for CFTC is included in the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bil , while the Senate includes it in the
Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bil . Since 2007, the two chambers
have alternated which of these two measures includes CFTC funding when enacted.
During the first session of the 110th Congress (2007), based on the recommendations of the 9/11
Commission, the House created the Select Intel igence Oversight Panel of the Appropriations
Committee to oversee spending on federal intel igence activities.30 This panel was established for
three major purposes: to review and study on a continuing basis budget requests for and execution
of intel igence activities, to make recommendations to relevant subcommittees of the
Appropriations Committee, and to prepare an annual report to the Defense subcommittee
containing budgetary and oversight observations and recommendations for use by such
subcommittee in preparation of the classified annex to the bil making appropriations for the
Department of Defense.31 This panel did not have any spending jurisdiction.

29 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee Jurisdiction, committee print, 110th Cong., 1st
sess. (Washington: GPO, 2007).
30 Representative David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced H.Res. 35 at the
beginning of the 110th Congress to create a select oversight panel to oversee spending on federal intelligence activities.
T he resolution was adopted by the House on January 9, 2007, by a vote of 239 -188. See “ Select Intelligence Oversight
Panel,” Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 153 (January 9, 2007), pp. H199-H209.
31 T he Select Intelligence Oversight Panel was composed of 13 members, including the chairman and ranking minority
member of the Appropriations Committee, the chairman and ranking minority member of the Defense subcommittee,
six additional members of the Appropriations Committee, and three members of the Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence.
Congressional Research Service

12

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2021

At the beginning of the 112th Congress (2011), the Select Intel igence Oversight Panel was
eliminated by H.Res. 5, adopted on January 5, 2011.

Author Information

James V. Saturno

Specialist on Congress and the Legislative Process



Disclaimer
This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as nonpartisan
shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and
under the direction of Congress. Information in a CRS Report should n ot be relied upon for purposes other
than public understanding of information that has been provided by CRS to Members of Congress in
connection with CRS’s institutional role. CRS Reports, as a work of the United States Government, are not
subject to copyright protection in the United States. Any CRS Report may be reproduced and distributed in
its entirety without permission from CRS. However, as a CRS Report may include copyrighted images or
material from a third party, you may need to obtain the permission of the copyright holder if you wish to
copy or otherwise use copyrighted material.

Congressional Research Service
RL31572 · VERSION 21 · UPDATED
13