Federal policies can’t be carried out nor laws enforced without funding. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees control the funding that allows the federal government to function.
The process starts early in the year. After the President presents his proposed budget, appropriations subcommittees examine the proposed budgets for each federal department and agency, hold hearings, and make recommendations on funding amounts and policy priorities. The full committees then adopt and report out the subcommittee recommendations, the House and Senate vote on their respective versions of the departmental budgets, and lawmakers are appointed to serve on conference committees to negotiate final versions of the budgets to be sent to the President for review and signature.
*image courtesy of Chris M. Morris
In recent years, the appropriations process has become much more complicated because of a ban on congressionally-directed appropriations items, the increased reliance on Continuing Resolutions (an extension of the previous year’s budget) to fund the government, and a sequester that mandates automatic annual cuts in agency budgets.
JFA follows the annual appropriations process closely, and has worked with many of the veteran lawmakers who chair the committees and subcommittees. In the 113th Congress, both of Alaska’s senators are members of the Appropriations Committee. Senator Lisa Murkowski is the Ranking Member on the Interior & Environment Subcommittee, and serves on the subcommittees for Commerce/Justice/Science, Defense, Energy & Water Development, Homeland Security, and Military Construction & Veterans Affairs. Senator Mark Begich’s subcommittee assignments are Homeland Security, Interior & Environment, Military Construction & Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and State/Foreign Operations.