Federal Budget

On the first Monday in February, the President submits to Congress a detailed budget with proposed spending levels for the next fiscal year (each fiscal year begins on October 1).  The budget includes a specific funding recommendation for NIH, including its 27 Institutes and Centers, and many NIH programs.

The House and Senate may approve or modify the President’s budget, but more often Congress elects to create its own Budget Resolution.  Each chamber must pass its own budget first.  The budget proposals originate in the House Budget Committee and Senate Budget Committee.  Once both chambers have approved their budgets, they work together to reconcile any differences and pass a Joint Budget Resolution.  Since a Budget Resolution does not become law, Congress has procedures that allow it to waive the requirements of an approved resolution.

Importantly, the Budget Resolution sets the overall level of discretionary spending for the fiscal year.  This funding is provided to the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate, which then allocate funds to their 12 subcommittees.  The appropriations subcommittees determine the level of funding that is provided to the federal departments and agencies under their jurisdiction.  The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittees in the House and Senate set the level of funding for NIH.

For a more detailed review of the federal budget process, see a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service entitled Introduction to the Federal Budget Process.