Appropriation / Cardinals of Congress (

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Appropriation / Cardinals of Congress


David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: How Appropriations is Supposed to Work


Appropriation: Provision of law that provides authority for federal agencies to obligate funds and to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. Appropriations for the federal government are provided both in annual appropriations acts and in permanent provisions of law. The formal federal spending process consists of two sequential steps: authorization and then appropriation.


Senator Blunt Questions EPA’s FY2013 Budget Request at Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing 5/16/2012


The House Appropriations Committee has twelve subcommittees, and the Senate Appropriations Committee has twelve subcommittees. The chairmen of these subcommittees are referred to as “Congressional Cardinals” or the “Cardinals of Congress” because they hold the purse strings for federal agencies, projects and programs.

From Congressional Procedure, Ch. 7.A.:

The budget is like a personal budget—your plan for how much money you expect to be earning, how much money you will spend and how you will spend it.

Authorizations may be thought of as decisions you might make that impact your budget, such as signing an apartment lease, buying an automobile, purchasing a home, or even having a child.

Appropriations are like payments you actually make under your budget, like paying the rent, utility bills, or buying groceries. You might have budgeted $300 for groceries, but ended up spending $350. Your appropriation is $350.

If you spend more than you bring in, you must borrow the difference. If you spend less, you have a surplus and may be able to invest it or save for a child’s education.

The “Status of Appropriations Legislation” can be found on

Also see


Birding by Ear: Northern Cardinal Song




Fiscal Law #1 – Overview





The Federal Budget Process 2E

The Federal Budget Process 2E

Pocket Constitution

Pocket Constitution

Citizen's Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials

Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates

Congressional Procedure

Congressional Procedure, from TheCapitol.Net

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