Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill: Structure, Content, and Process
he legislative branch appropriations bill is one of the regular appropriations bills that
Congress considers each year. It provides budget authority to spend specified amounts of
money for expenditures of the legislative branch for the fiscal year, including staff salaries. T
This bill funds the operations not only of Congress itself but also of its support agencies and other
entities within the legislative branch. Salaries for Members of Congress are not included in the
annual bill, but are funded automatically each year in a permanent appropriations account. A
detailed examination of legislative branch funding is discussed in CRS Report RL34490,
Legislative Branch: FY2009 Appropriations, by Ida A. Brudnick. For more information on
congressional processes, see http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml.
Effective in FY2003, Congress restructured the legislative branch appropriations bill so that Title
I contains entities that include the House of Representatives, Senate, Joint Items, Capitol Police,
Congressional Budget Office, Library of Congress (including the Congressional Research
Service), Architect of the Capitol, Government Accountability Office (formerly named the
General Accounting Office), Government Printing Office, Office of Compliance, Open World
Leadership Program, and John C. Stennis Center for Public Service. Typically, Title II contains
general provisions. Occasionally, the legislative branch bill might contain additional titles for
special provisions. Previously, from the late 1970s until FY2003, the bill was divided into two
titles: one covered entities that directly supported Congress (Title I: Congressional Operations),
and the other covered those that did not exclusively, or almost exclusively, support Congress
(Title II: Related Agencies).
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Since October 1, 2008, the legislative branch has been funded at the FY2008 budget level under a
continuing resolution covering nine regular appropriations bills through March 6, 2009 (H.R.
The FY2009 request was $4.66 billion, or about an 18% increase over the FY2008 enacted
amount. The House and Senate accounts include budget authority for salaries and other expenses
for Member offices, leadership offices, officers and their employees, and committees. Although
the legislative branch appropriations bill funds committees annually on a fiscal year basis, each
chamber authorizes its committees (except House Appropriations, Senate Appropriations, and
Senate Ethics) for two years at a time through resolutions adopted near the beginning of each
Congress. The Joint Items account funds the expenses and salaries of the joint committees, the
Office of the Attending Physician, the Capitol Guide and Special Services Office, and the
preparation of statements of appropriations. Since FY2003, the Capitol Police has been funded
under its own separate account, “Capitol Police.”
On occasion, supplemental appropriations have been provided to accommodate specific purposes,
activities, or unanticipated expenditures.
The President proposes spending levels for most annual general appropriations bills that fund
activities of executive branch agencies in the President’s annual budget, which is submitted by the
first Monday in February (31 U.S.C. 1105(a)). However, the House and Senate, including the
leadership and the Appropriations Committees, and legislative support agencies develop estimates
for the legislative branch entities. The President subsequently presents, without changes in the
budget request, the proposed funding levels for the legislative branch submission (31 U.S.C.
1105). The House and Senate Subcommittees on the Legislative Branch each hold hearings at
which the heads of legislative entities and the respective chamber’s administrative officers
explain their requests and answer questions.
The House Appropriations Committee, which traditionally originates appropriations bills, reports
a legislative branch appropriations bill that includes funding for the House only, Joint Items, and
other legislative branch entities. The House leaves the Senate to determine funding levels for its
own operations in the bill.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommends alterations in funding levels for Joint Items
and other legislative branch entities, but customarily makes no revisions in House items. Any
differences between House and Senate versions may be reconciled between the two chambers.
The President almost always signs the legislative branch bill as passed by the House and Senate.
Legislative branch permanent appropriations and trust funds are not included in the legislative
branch appropriations act. Permanent appropriations are made available in the amounts necessary
for the purposes specified as the result of previously enacted legislation, and do not require
annual action. These permanent appropriations include compensation of Members, congressional
use of foreign currencies, and Library of Congress payments to copyright owners.
Trust funds are monies held in accounts credited with collections from sources specified by law
for defined purposes. Trust funds include gifts and donations to the Library of Congress and funds
held by the U.S. Capitol Preservation Commission.
Table 1 presents the various accounts for the FY2008 enacted and FY2009 requested amounts.
Table 1. Legislative Branch Appropriations, FY2008 and FY2009
(in thousands of dollars)
Entity FY2008 Enacted FY2009 Requested
Title I: Legislative Branch Appropriations
Senate 831,757 940,897
House of Representatives 1,182,835 1,333,861
Joint Items 23,001 29,341
Capitol Police 281,872 333,654
Office of Compliance 3,342 4,308
Congressional Budget Office 37,306 42,740
Architect of the Capitol 413,471 642,664
Library of Congress, including Congressional Research 563,049 606,164
Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress (102,344) (107,323)
Government Printing Office 124,688 174,354
Government Accountability Office 499,748 538,152
Open World Leadership Program 8,978 13,900
Stennis Center for Public Service 429 430
Title II: General Provisions 0 0
Total Legislative Branch, Titles I and II 3,970,476 4,660,465
Source: House Committee on Appropriations, Office of Management and Budget, Analytical Perspectives, Budget
of the United States Government, FY2009, Table 28–Federal Programs by Agency and Account (Washington: GPO,
2008) and Office of Management and Budget, Summary Tables, Budget of the United States, FY2009, Table S – 3.
Discretionary Funding by Major Agency (Washington: GPO, 2008) p. 141, P.L. 110-161, and the statement of
David Obey in the Congressional Record (daily edition), vol. 153, Dec. 17, 2007, pp. H16371-H16380.
Lorraine H. Tong
Analyst in American National Government