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The President’s Budget

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The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9 directs that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”  Each year the U.S. Congress drafts legislation to appropriate funds for the continued operation of the government during the next fiscal year.   Since 1921, this process has been kicked off by the submission from the President of the United States of a budget with the proposed expenditures for the executive, legislative and judicial branchs of the government.  This document is entitled “The Budget of the  United States Government.”

The 1921 Budget and Accounting Act directed the President to transmit to Congress on the first day of each regular session, a Budget, which was to set forth both in summary and in detail: “Estimates of the expenditures and appropriations necessary in his judgement for the support of the Government for the ensuing fiscal year.”  To aid the President in this work, the law also established the Bureau of the Budget.  As laid out in section 209 of this law, the Bureau was to help the President to “make a detailed study of the departments and establishments”  in order to determine the appropriate levels of funding for the next fiscal year.  The Budget and Accounting Act, section 201(f), also directed the President to submit balanced statements of “the condition of the Treasury at the end of the last completed fiscal year” as well as estimates of the Treasury for the fiscal year in progress and the next fiscal year based on the proposed budget.

Since 1921, Congress has passed a number of revisions to the Budget and Accounting Act.  Among other changes, the Bureau of the Budget has been abolished.  Today, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) helps collect the data for the President’s Budget.  The current law can be found in Title 31, section 1105(a) of the United States Code.  The President is directed to submit a budget to Congress between the first Monday in January and first Monday in February.  The budget should still contain a summary and supporting information for the coming fiscal year as well as balance statements for the Treasury for the previous fiscal year, the current fiscal year and estimates for the upcoming fiscal year.  In addition, the President is required to submit what is called a Mid-Session Review, which provides updated and revised information on the actual receipts and outlays of the Government.

Although the Budget contains data for all three branches of the government, the President and the OMB only collect data and make specific recommendations for the executive branch of the government.  The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 directed the President to simply include the estimates for the Legislative Branch of the Government and the Supreme Court of the United States as they were transmitted to him on or before October 15th of each year “without revision.”  Title 31, section 1105(b) reiterates this requirement though the date of transmittal of this data has been moved to October 16th.

The Budget of the United States Government has been published in print by the Government Printing Office since 1936.  The Budget is also available online from 1996 through Fiscal Year 2012.


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