Order Code RS20023
Updated March 27, 2001
CRS Report for Congress
Committee Funding and Staff in the Senate
Paul S. Rundquist
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
The Senate authorizes funds for two years for each of its committees (except
Appropriations and Ethics) through an omnibus resolution, recommended by the Senate
Committee on Rules and Administration and adopted by thefill Senate at the beginning
of each Congress. This resolution, in turn, is based onfinding requests made by each
committee in theform of an individual resolution. The unique powersharing agreement
(S.Res. 8) the Senate adopted on January 5, 2001, arguably contributed to delays in the
committee funding process for the 107fhCongress. Under the agreement, each party
(notwithstanding Senate Rule Xn/7r) receives equal staffing on all Senate committees,
as well as equal space and access tofacilities. Overall committee funding costs are to
remain "within historic levels. "
Technically, finding authority for Senate committee staff and other operations
(except those of the Appropriations Committee) would have expired on February 28,
2001. However, pursuant to a unanimous consent request that day, committees were
temporarilyfunded at their 10gh Congress levels until March 10, 2001. On March 8,
2001, the Senate agreed to S.Res. 54, submitted jointly by Senators Lott and Daschle.
The resolution providesfin& through February 2003 to Senate committees at the level
the committees had requestedfor the 1 0 p Congress. (For more details, see CRS Report
RS20885, "The Senate Powersharing Agreement: Key Features, and CRS Report
RL30898, "Committee Funding Resolutions and Processes, 10 7 f h Congress. 'y
The Senate biennial committee fbnding process applies to all Senate committees
except the Appropriations and Ethics committees, which have permanent authorization for
their staff and operating expenses. The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration has
jurisdiction over committee funding resolutions, and also issues regulations governing
committee funding and staff. Committee funding and staff also are regulated by Senate
rules, especially Rule XXVI, paragraph 9, and Rule XXVZI, as well as by statute. The
funds authorized by resolution are appropriated in Legislative Branch Appropriations acts.
Budgets for individual committees vary widely, depending not only on the size and
salaries of the committees' staff, but also on their size and workload, the salience of their
issues, Senate goals and priorities, and the overall fiscal climate. In general, staff salaries
compose the largest portion of committee budgets.
Committee Funding. Soon after a new Congress convenes, generally by January
3 1 of the first session, each Senate committee requests funds for two years by reporting
Congressional Research Service
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
1 ~ ~ ~ ~~~~~~~~~
a resolution. These resolutions are referred to the Rules and Administration Committee.
Each committee supports its request by submitting supporting materials, including those
specified by the Rules and Administration Committee. In recent Congresses, that panel
has advised committees on the permissible increase, or required decrease, compared to the
previous funding level. Committees requesting funds in excess of these guidelines have
been asked to include a justification in their budget submissions.
The Rules and Administration Committee then holds hearings, during which
committee leaders testifl on their budget requests. Following the hearings, the committee
meets to mark up the funding resolutions. Typically, it reports an omnibus resolution that
identifies a funding level for each committee for two years, and allocates a portion for each
of two periods. In recommending levels of funding, the Rules and Administration
Committee distinguishes between regular committee activities and one-time needs, such
as special investigations. Recurring needs form the base budget for the next Congress,
while special needs are funded on a nonrecurring basis. In the 106'~Congress, the Senate
moved to a biennial funding process, primarily based on the fiscal year.
Committee funding resolutions take effect after being considered on the Senate floor
the Senate agreed to an interim
and agreed to by majority vote. In the 1 0 6 Congress,
funding resolution and a final funding resolution, both by unanimous consent. S.Res. 54
of the 1 0 7 Congress
was also agreed to by unanimous consent.
If a committee requires additional funds after the omnibus resolution has been agreed
to, funds may be requested essentially in the same way as they were for its two-year
budget. The Senate has minimized the need for supplemental funding, however, by
allowing committeesto use unspent funds from one period during the next funding period.
The 1 0 6 ~Congress funding resolution also contained a special reserve from which
unexpected funding needs by any Senate committee could be met from this fund upon the
request of its chair and ranking member, and the approval of the chair and ranking member
of the Rules and Administration Committee.
Committee Staff. In consultation with the Rules and Administration Committee,
each committee establishes a maximum level of stafFthat its budget can accommodate.
Staff size varies widely among committees, but committees often employ fewer staffthan
their authorized maximums. Committees have discretion over how to allocate staff among
Senate Rule XXVII requires that each committee's staff reflect the ratio of majority
and minority committee members, and that the minority receive "fair consideration" in the
appointment of staff By resolution, a majority of the minority party members of a
committee may request at least one-third of the personnel funds for hiring minority staff.
This ratio is calculated after excluding funds for staff who perform administrative and
clerical functions for the committee as a whole, if any, as agreed to by the chair and
ranking minority member. Committee staff may be supplemented by consultants and staff
detailed to the committees from federal agencies, subject to such restrictions as the
Committee on Rules and Administration may impose.