Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Yesterday the President sent Congress details of the budget he would like for Fiscal Year 2011 (which begins on 1st October 2010). The most obvious contrast with the Budget presented by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer is that Congress has control of the process - and will mould its own budget (which the President hopes will be close to his proposal). In Britain Parliament will, more or less, rubber stamp the Chancellor's budget. A defeat for a British Government on its budget proposals would bring the Government down. A critique of the involvement of Parliament in the budgetary process from the Hansard Society can be read here.
CRS has produced a number of useful guides to the US budgetary process - which are available via the House of Representatives Rules Committee website. The key to understanding the process is the distinction between authorization and appropriation. Congress gives legal authority for the actions involving spending through the authorization process. The allocation of the money comes through the appropriation process. So for defence spending the Armed Services Committees (and some others) deal with the authorizing legislation - and the money is granted by the Appropriation Committees.
The Congressional Budget Office was set up by Congress to provide expert advice and analysis.