Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill: Fact Sheet on Structure, Content, and Process
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS W eb
Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill: Fact
Sheet on Structure, Content, and Process
Analys t i n American N ational Government
Government and Finance Division
The l egislative branch appropriations bill is one of the regular appropriations bills
t h a t C ongress norm al l y enact s each year for t he fi scal year begi nni ng on Oct ober 1 . It
provides budget au t h o r i t y, which is statut ory authority to spend s pecified amounts o f
money, for ex penditures of t he legi slative branch for the fiscal year, i ncluding salaries.
This bill funds the operations not only of C ongress itself but also of its support agencies
and other entities within the l egislative branch. For m ore i nformation on l egislative
process, see [ http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml] .
Congr essi onal O per a ti ons and Rel ated Agenci es
Sin c e t h e late 1970s, t he legi slative branch bill has contained t wo titles. Title I,
“Congressional Operations,” funds activities d irectly supporting C ongress, including the
House, the S enat e, joint items, t he Capitol P olice, the C ongressional Budget Office, the
Congressional R es earch Service (within the Library of Congress), t he Architect of the
Capitol (ex cept Library of Congress buildings and grounds), and congressional p rinting
and binding done by the Government Printing Office. Title II, “R el at ed Agencies,”
funded l egislative b ranch entities t hat d o not ex clusively, or almost ex clusively, support
Congress, including the remaining functions of the Libra r y o f Congress and t he
Government Printing Offi ce, Li brary buildings and grounds (under t he Architect of the
Capitol), t he General Accounting Office, an d t he Bo tanic Garden. Effective i n FY2003,
Congress restructured the b ill so that T itle I now comprises all the above entities. Title
II now co n t ains general p rovisions and fundi ng for t wo activities: the J ohn C. Stennis
Center for P ublic Service Training and Development, and t he Congressional Award Act.
For FY2003, Title I i s funded at $3.46 billion, and Title II at $546,000. Periodically, t he
legi slative branch bill might contai n additional titles for speci al one-time activities.
For FY2003, the House account is funded at $960.9 million and the S enate account
at $663.4 million. T h e s e accounts p rovide budget authority for s alaries and other
ex penses for M em ber o ffi ces, l eadershi p o ffi ces, o f f i c e r s and t h ei r em p l o yees, and
committees. Although t he legi slative b ranch appropriations bill funds commit t ees
annually on a fiscal year basis, each chamb e r a u t h o riz es its committees (ex cept House
Appropriations and S enate Ethics) for t wo years at a time through resol u tions adopted
near the b egi n n i n g of each Congress. Under t he J o int Items account, $17.3 million i n
budget authority was p rovided t o fund the ex p enses and salaries of the j oint committees,
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
t h e O ffi ce of t h e A t t endi ng P h ys i ci an, t h e C api t o l G ui de and S peci al S ervi ces Offi ce, and
for t he preparation o f s tatements o f appropriations. Also i n FY2003, the C apitol P olice
is funded under a new s eparate account, “Capitol P olice,” at $240.2 million.
P eriodically, s upplemental appropriations are n ee d e d t o accommodate specific
purposes or activities, unex p ected ex penditu res, or shortfalls. For FY2003, Congress
appropriated a total o f $3.46 billion for legi slative b ranch operations under P .L.108-7, the
Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003, that also required an across t he board cut,
and P .L. 108-11, the Emergency Wartime Supplem ental Appropriations Act t hat i ncluded
$125 million for the l egislative b ranch. Fo r a de tailed ex amination of l egislative b ranch
funding, s ee CRS Report R L31812, Appropriations for FY 2004: Legislative Branch ,by
Most of the annual general appropriations bills fund activities o f ex ecutive b ranch
age n c i e s , and the amounts o f budget authority requested for t hose agencies i n t he
President’s annual budget represent s pendi ng levels proposed by the P resident. For
legi slative branch ex penses, however, as a matter of comity between t he branches, the
President’s budget simply presents estimates s ubmitted b y C ongress. These estimates are
dev e l o p e d b y t he Senate and House, includi ng the l eadership and t he Appropriations
Committees, and by legi slative s upport agencies. As with other appropriations bills, t he
House and Senate Subcommittees on the Legis lative Branch each hold h earings , at which
the heads of l egislative entities and the respective chamber’s administrat i v e o fficers
provide budget requests, justifications, and ex planations.
The House Appropriations Committee, which t raditionally originat es appropriations
bills, reports a l egislative branch appropriations bill that incl udes f u nding only for the
House, joint items, and other l egislative branch entities. As a m atter of comity, t he House
leaves S e n ate funding to be added t o t he bill in the S enate. The S enate Appropriations
Committee and the S enate also propose alterati ons in funding levels for j oint items and
other l egislative branch entities, but customarily make no revisions in House items. As
with other appropriations bi lls, d ifferences between House and Senate versions may b e
reconciled i n a House-Senate conference committee. The P resident customarily signs t he
legi slative b ranch b ill without questioning the s pending levels Congress has d etermined.
Per m anent Budget Author i t y; Tr ust Funds
There are legi slative b ranch budget authorities not included i n t he legi slative b ranch
appropriat i o n s act. These i nclude permanent budget authorities and trust funds.
P ermanent appropriations are m ade available i n t he amounts n ecessary for t he purposes
specified as the result o f p revi ously enacted legi slation, and d o not require annual action.
These p ermanent appropriations include compensation o f M embers, congressional u se of
foreign currencies, international conference ex penses, and Li brary o f C ongress paym ents
to copyrigh t o wners. Trust funds are m onies held in accounts credited with collections
from s ources specified by law for defined purpo s e s . T r u s t funds include gi fts and
donations to the Library of Congress and t he Architect of the C apitol (Bo tanic Garden),
and funds held by the U.S. C apitol P reservation C ommission.