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.

FY 2016 Federal Appropriations Results

Despite Significant Threats, Bay Delegation in Congress Maintains Support for Clean Water Blueprint

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The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is an interdependent collaboration between federal and state governments. Many federal programs provide critical support for states as they work to meet their Blueprint goals. CBF is the only organization advocating in Washington D.C. to ensure Congress and the Administration provide consistent annual federal funding for Blueprint-critical programs. In addition, CBF works to increase agency authorizations and funding for the Blueprint where there is the potential to provide more impact. This advocacy is coordinated with and complements our work with state governments in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania to drive full Blueprint implementation by 2025 and is described in our review along with our specific FY16 appropriations requests and results. Overall, the Bay Delegation in Congress successfully maintained FY16 federal funding for programs significant to the Blueprint.

In the federal government, the Blueprint is supported by substantial programs in the following agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Navy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Parks Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). CBF has targeted federal advocacy specifically at federal agencies and programs with the most significant impact on water pollution reductions in the Blueprint—either directly or through programs which help sustain public support. Advocacy occurs year-round in the Executive Office (Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Management and Budget), the Federal Agencies and in Congress. 

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