Appropriation Act / Appropriation Bill / Continuing Resolution / Continuing Appropriations (

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Appropriation Act / Appropriation Bill / Continuing Resolution / Continuing Appropriations

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Appropriation Act: A statute, under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, that generally provides legal authority for federal agencies to incur obligations and to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. An appropriation act fulfills the requirement of Article I, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution, which provides that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Under the rules of both houses, an appropriation act should follow enactment of authorizing legislation.

Major types of appropriation acts are regular, supplemental, deficiency, and continuing. Regular appropriation acts are all appropriation acts that are not supplemental, deficiency, or continuing. Currently, regular annual appropriation acts that provide funding for the continued operation of federal departments, agencies, and various government activities are considered by Congress annually. From time to time, supplemental appropriation acts are also enacted. When action on regular appropriation bills is not completed before the beginning of the fiscal year, a continuing resolution (often referred to simply as “CR”) may be enacted in a bill or joint resolution to provide funding for the affected agencies for the full year, up to a specified date, or until their regular appropriations are enacted. A deficiency appropriation act provides budget authority to cover obligations incurred in excess of available budget authority.

See also:


NASA Proposed FY 13 Budget, House Appropriations Committee Hearing, March 21, 2012


By congressional custom, an appropriations bill originates in the House, and it is not supposed to be considered by the full House or Senate until a related measure authorizing the funding is enacted. The latter restriction is often ignored, however. An appropriation bill grants the actual money approved by authorization bills, but not necessarily the full amount permissible under the authorization. The 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law stipulated that the House pass by June 30 the last regular appropriations bill for the fiscal year starting October 1. (There is no such deadline for the Senate.) However, appropriations often have not been completed until well after the fiscal year begins, requiring a succession of stopgap bills to continue the government’s functions. In addition, much federal spending – about half of all budget authority, notably that for Social Security and interest on the federal debt – does not require annual appropriations; those programs exist under permanent appropriations.

Continuing Resolution / Continuing Appropriations: Legislation in the form of a joint resolution enacted by Congress, when the new fiscal year is about to begin or has begun, to provide budget authority for Federal agencies and programs to continue in operation until the regular appropriations acts are enacted.

The “Status of Appropriations Legislation” can be found on


David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: Continuing Resolutions


Also see

  • Appropriation / Cardinals of Congress
  • Authorization
  • Budget Authority
  • By Request
  • Clean Bill
  • Report / Reported
  • § 7.80 Authorizations and Appropriations Processes, § 8.50 Congress and the Executive: Appropriations, § 8.160 Congress and Foreign Policy: Legislation, Appropriations, and Nominations, in Congressional Deskbook





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