U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Photo credit Getty ImagesU.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Photo credit Getty Images

The Federal Appropriations Process

The Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint will only be successful if the federal government funds its share of the process. Funding through the federal appropriations process is vital and advocacy can make a real difference.

Step 1 - The President's Budget

In February, Congress receives the President's budget and a report from the Congressional Budget Office on the budget and economy. We work to make sure the President requests sufficient funds for the Blueprint.

Step 2 - Congress' Budget

Through the spring, the Budget Committees work to pass a concurrent budget resolution, which includes budget targets, policy priorities and specific funding levels for different government functions—including those that support the Blueprint. The Committees hold hearings on the President's Budget and receive testimony from the administration and experts in the public and private sectors. They also receive reports from authorizing committees on their budget and policy priorities. They use this information to draft a budget resolution that sets spending limits for the Appropriations Committees.

Step 3 - Appropriations

The two Appropriations Committees—one in the House and one in the Senate—have 12 subcommittees. These subcommittees receive their spending limits and begin to develop their bills. They hold hearings and also hear directly from members of Congress about their priorities. We encourage Senators and Representatives from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, and New York to write to the relevant Chairs of the Appropriations Subcommittees and request sufficient federal funding for the implementing the Blueprint.

The Appropriations Committees mark up and pass each bill, send them to the floor of each chamber and when they pass, they are sent to the President to be signed. If they have not provided enough funds for the Blueprint, we let members of Congress and the President know. This process can be protracted as the Congress and the President negotiate.

If a bill is not passed by September 30, they must appropriate funds to cover government programs in the interim to keep the government functioning until a new appropriations bill is passed. They do this through a continuing resolution. Even in a continuing resolution, it is important make sure there are enough interim federal funds to support the Blueprint.

Step 4 - Reconciliation

In some cases, Congress also has to adjust legislation for programs that do not require annual appropriations in order to meet the budget targets. This process does not involve appropriations committees. Instead, the authorizing committees draft the changes in legislation, which they report to the Budget Committees. The legislation must pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President.

July 2013 Update

The FY14 Budget and Appropriations process is moving forward as well. Congress is deciding how much funding it will give to conservation programs for October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014. Several weeks ago, the House Chesapeake Bay delegation wrote a letter to the Appropriations subcommittee urging there be no cap on farm bill funding for specific programs such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI) and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The letter stated: "Despite financial strain, states have met many of their 2-year milestones and we are beginning to see real progress. We must continue a strong federal investment to bolster state efforts."

CBF is committed to clean water in our Bay, rivers, and streams for us and future generations. We're grateful for your support and will continue to work and walk the halls of Congress to keep clean water and a healthy Chesapeake Bay at the forefront of our representatives' minds.

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