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 all 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 bills 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 bills (e.g., the Treasury Department bill with the Post Office Department bill beginning in 1924), although one new bill (and subcommittee) was created when the appropriations bill for the Department of Labor was split off from the Departments of State, Justice, Commerce, and Labor bill 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 bill, 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 parallel subcommittees that have remained in place since.
During the first session of the 110th Congress (2007), the House created the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel of the appropriations committee to oversee spending on federal intelligence activities. This panel was eliminated in 2011 at the beginning of the 112th Congress.
This report will be updated to reflect any changes in Appropriations subcommittee structure.
Article I, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution provides, "No money shall 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.
The number and jurisdictions of appropriations subcommittees have evolved to meet changing needs and circumstances. For example, reorganization was undertaken at the beginning of the 108th Congress in response to the creation of a new Department of Homeland Security. After the legislation establishing the new department was enacted,1 the House Appropriations Committee established a new subcommittee. This modification of subcommittee structure affected eight of the existing subcommittees and was one of the most extensive reorganizations of the Appropriations Committees since the 1920s. Shortly thereafter, a similar change was made in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Reorganization can also be undertaken to adapt to changes in congressional priorities. For example, in the reorganization that occurred at the start of the 109th Congress, both the House and the Senate undertook a major change in subcommittee structure. This resulted in the elimination of three appropriations subcommittees in the House and one in the Senate and ultimately affected the jurisdictions of 10 appropriations subcommittees in the House and 8 in the Senate. Another major reorganization at the beginning of the 110th Congress again shifted subcommittee jurisdiction to reestablish parallel House and Senate subcommittees.
This report details the evolution of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees' subcommittee structure from the 1920s to the present.
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 1921.2 In anticipation of the more centralized executive budget system provided under the act, the House also changed its rules to require that all appropriations be considered by the Appropriations Committee.3 During the late 19th century, congressional rules had assigned jurisdiction over certain general appropriations bills to committees other than the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Notably, the appropriations bills for the District of Columbia, Indian affairs, Agriculture Department, Army, Navy, Post Office Department, and rivers and harbors (i.e., public works) were all considered by their respective legislative committees.4
A subsequent, additional change involved the organization of appropriations bills. Prior to the Budget and Accounting Act, appropriations bills (and subcommittees) tended to be organized along topical lines. For example, the military activities of the War Department were considered in appropriations bills reported by the Military Affairs Committee, and the activities of the Corps of Engineers were considered in River and Harbor appropriations bills reported by the Commerce Committee. The salaries and contingent expenses for the civilian administration of the department, however, were carried in the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial bill, 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 bills. Nevertheless, their salaries and expenses were generally funded in the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial bill.5
Concurrent with the congressional consolidation of jurisdiction over appropriations, the newly established Bureau of the Budget6 recommended that appropriations bills be reorganized along administrative lines, where appropriations for salaries and expenses would be carried in the same bill as funding for programs and activities administered by a department. This arrangement had previously existed only for the Department of Agriculture appropriations bill. The House Appropriations Committee adopted the bureau's concept and reorganized the structure of general appropriations bills and its subcommittees so extensively that only the structure of the Agriculture bill remained essentially unchanged.
After its reorganization, the House Appropriations Committee comprised the following subcommittees:
By long-standing custom, the House originates all general appropriations bills.9 As a consequence, historically, the House has generally determined the initial content of the bills. By originating appropriations bills 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 bills, as well as multiple committees sharing jurisdiction over general appropriations bills. Confronted with the difficulty of considering the reorganized appropriations bills with its now outmoded system, the Senate reorganized its appropriations jurisdiction and subcommittees in 1922.10
Information available on congressional subcommittees, including those of the Appropriations Committees, is generally sparse and unsystematic prior to enactment of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946.11 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 bills.12 Using data on appropriations bills 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 bill structure (and, presumably, subcommittee structure) between 1922 and 1946 seem to have been limited to the following:
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:
The idea of modernizing congressional committee structure and operations embodied in the Legislative Reorganization Act was paralleled by an interest in developing a more modern federal administrative apparatus to supplant the one that had grown in episodic bursts to meet the challenges of the Depression and World War II. Because appropriations bills 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 1018 and a high of 15.19 Despite this fluctuation, it appears that the Appropriations Committees generally continued the practice of each subcommittee being responsible for drafting one of the regular appropriations bills.20
Appropriations Subcommittees that were created, abolished, or reorganized from the 80th Congress through the 91st Congress (1947-1970) are as follows:
A subcommittee (and appropriations bill) specifically pertaining to government corporations operated in both the House and Senate during the 80th Congress (1947-1948).
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 well 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 Valley 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). A single bill was reported from the subcommittee for each fiscal year during this period.
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 was subsequently exercised by the full committee. 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).
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),21 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 intelligence activities between the 91st and 94th Congresses (1968-1976). During these years, there continued to be a single Department of Defense appropriations bill.
Military construction was considered part of the Defense Appropriations bill 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 bill 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).
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).
A separate bill to fund foreign aid programs (then called the Mutual Security bill) was considered beginning in the first session of the 83rd Congress (1953), 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).
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.
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 bills 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).
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).
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 parallel 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 bill evolved with the creation of the Departments of Housing and Urban Development in 1965 and Veterans' Affairs in 1988, the Public Works bill became known as the Energy and Water bill 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:
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.22 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 either chamber in over 30 years. The new subcommittee was formally 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 10.23 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 bill was retained by the full committee, and the following major changes were made in House appropriations subcommittee organization:
This reorganization left the House with the following 10 subcommittees:
The Senate Appropriations Committee subsequently adopted a reorganization plan as well, eliminating the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies and making the following major changes:
This reorganization left the Senate with the following 12 subcommittees:
At the beginning of the 110th Congress (2007), further major changes were made as follows:
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:24
These 12 subcommittees have remained in place since 2007. In most respects, the jurisdictions of subcommittees for both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees were made parallel. The one salient exception was 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 bill, while the Senate includes it in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. 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 Intelligence Oversight Panel of the Appropriations Committee to oversee spending on federal intelligence activities.25 This panel was established for three major purposes: to review and study on a continuing basis budget requests for and execution of intelligence 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 bill making appropriations for the Department of Defense.26 This panel did not have any spending jurisdiction.
At the beginning of the 112th Congress (2011), the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel was eliminated by H.Res. 5, adopted on January 5, 2011.
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The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296), which created the Department of Homeland Security, was enacted on November 25, 2002.
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 Title 31 of the U.S. Code.
H.Res. 324, 66th Congress. For its consideration by the House, see "Change in the Rules of the House," Congressional Record, vol. 59, June 1, 1920, pp. 8102-8121.
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).
The Bureau of the Budget was created by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (P.L. 13, 67th Congress, 42 Stat. 20-27).
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. These 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).
Civil functions consisted largely of the work of the Army Corps of Engineers, such as river and harbor projects, flood control, and maintenance of the Panama Canal.
For more on the origination of general appropriations bills, see CRS Report RL31399, The Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution: Interpretation and Enforcement, by James V. Saturno.
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.
P.L. 601, 79th Congress, 60 Stat. 812-852.
In addition, there appear to have been occasional subcommittees established for special purposes, such as a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Permanent Appropriations during the 73rd Congress (1933-1934), which was responsible for recommending the repeal of various permanent appropriations.
In the 68th Congress (1923-1924), the Senate subcommittee maintained subunits for separate consideration of Treasury and Post Office items respectively, although a single bill was considered.
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.
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.
The Federal Security Agency was established by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1939, grouping the Office of Education, Public Health Service, Social Security Board, U.S. Employment Service, Civilian Conservation Corps, and National Youth Administration. The 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.
This change in bill structure, however, reflected a change in the subcommittee structure of the House only. The 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).
In the House during the 81st and 82nd Congresses (1949-1952) and in the Senate during the 81st through 83rd Congresses (1949-1954).
In the House during the 86th and 87th Congresses (1959-1962).
There 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.
P.L. 253, 80th Congress, 61 Stat. 495-510.
U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, "Chairman Young Announces Homeland Security Reorganization," press release, January 29, 2003.
U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, "Chairman Lewis Major Reorganization of the House Appropriations Committee and Slate of Subcommittee Chairmen," press release, February 9, 2005.
U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee Jurisdiction, committee print, 110th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington: GPO, 2007).
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. The 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.
The 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.