Spending and Revenue Levels

Both mandatory and discretionary spending recommendations in the budget resolution are established through the use of 20 categories, known as "budget functions," that encompass a general purpose, such as national defense or transportation. Budget Function 500 includes funding for the Department of Education as well as other education and training programs housed in other agencies. After Congress passes a budget resolution, all mandatory and discretionary spending levels set in each of the budget functions are allocated to the Congressional committees (such as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee) with jurisdiction over the programs within the functions. Each committee receives one spending allocation (called a 302(a) allocation) for the years covered in the resolution. Proposed legislation that exceeds a committee's 302(a) allocation could face procedural hurdles during consideration in the House or Senate. These procedural hurdles are included in various federal budget laws and the budget resolution itself.

Total federal revenue levels are also established in the budget resolution. While the resolution does not establish laws that will raise or reduce taxes, the revenue levels in the resolution serve to put forth a "revenue floor." If legislation is considered by the Senate or House that would cause revenue to fall below the floor in the years specified in the budget resolution, the relevant bill could face additional procedural hurdles during consideration.

Customarily, the House considers appropriations acts first and then passes them on to the Senate for consideration. During the fall, the House-Senate conference committees meet to resolve the differences and agree on final versions of the Subcommittee bills which include individual program funding levels for the upcoming fiscal year. Appropriations bills can be passed individually or they may be combined into an omnibus appropriations measure. Congress must pass appropriations bills to fund discretionary spending programs by October 1st for the federal government to continue operation. If Congress fails to pass appropriations bills by October 1st, however, it can provide interim funding through a continuing resolution (CR).