The Congressional Budget Process Timetable

The Congressional Budget Process Timetable
Bill Heniff Jr.
Analyst on the Congress and Legislative Process
Government and Finance Division
The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Titles I-IX of P.L. 93-344, 2 U.S.C. 601-
688) established the congressional budget process, which coordinates the legislative
activities on the budget resolution, appropriations bills, reconciliation legislation, revenue
measures, and other budgetary legislation. Section 300 of this act provides a timetable
(see Table 1) intended to ensure that Congress completes its work on budgetary
legislation by the start of the fiscal year on October 1. For more information on the
budget process, see the CRS Guides to Congressional Processes at
[] .
Table 1. The Congressional Budget Process Timetable
Da te Actio n
First Monday in FebruaryPresident submits budget to Congress.
February 15Congressional Budget Office submits economic and budget
outlook report to Budget Committees.
Six weeks after PresidentCommittees submit views and estimates to Budget Committees.
submits budget
April 1Senate Budget Committee reports budget resolution.
April 15Congress completes action on budget resolution.
May 15Annual appropriations bills may be considered in the House, even
if action on budget resolution has not been completed.
June 10House Appropriations Committee reports last annual
appropriations bill.
June 15Congress completes action on reconciliation legislation (if
required by budget resolution).
June 30House completes action on annual appropriations bills.
July 15President submits mid-session review of his budget to Congress.
October 1Fiscal year begins.
Source: Section 300 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, as amended (P.L. 93-344, 2 U.S.C. 631).

Congress generally begins its budget process once the President submits his budget.
The President is required by law to submit a comprehensive federal budget on or before
the first Monday in February (31 U.S.C. 1105(a)).
The congressional budget process provides for the annual adoption of a concurrent
resolution on the budget to serve as a framework for the consideration of budgetary
legislation. The congressional budget timetable sets April 15 as a target date for
completion of the annual budget resolution (prior to 1986, the date was May 15).
Congress usually does not complete action on the budget resolution by this date.1 Since
the timetable was established in 1974, Congress has completed action on the budget
resolution by the date set forth in the timetable only six times, most recently in 2003 for
Section 303(a) of the Budget Act prohibits any spending, revenue, or debt-limit
legislation for the upcoming fiscal year from being considered before a budget resolution
has been adopted. The House, however, may consider annual appropriations bills after
May 15 if a budget resolution has not been adopted by then. The congressional budget
process timetable also provides target dates for the House Appropriations Committee and
the entire House to complete action on the annual appropriations bills. To encourage
adherence to such target dates, Section 309 of the Budget Act prohibits the consideration
of a resolution providing for an adjournment period of more than three calendar days
during the month of July until the House has approved the annual appropriations bills for
the upcoming fiscal year.
Under the Budget Act, Congress may include in the budget resolution reconciliation
directives, instructing one or more committees, in each chamber, to recommend
legislative changes to existing law to meet budget targets.2 Such directives also include
a date by which the instructed committees must submit legislation to their respective
Budget Committees, if multiple committees in each chamber are involved, or report
legislation to their respective chamber. This date effectively determines the timetable
under which reconciliation legislation is considered, instead of the June 15 target date for
the House to complete action on reconciliation legislation as specified in Section 300 of
the Budget Act (i.e., the congressional budget process timetable). To encourage early
action on reconciliation legislation, Section 310(f) of the Budget Act prohibits the
consideration of a resolution providing for an adjournment period of more than three

1 Moreover, Congress did not complete action on a budget resolution in four years (in 1998, 2002,

2004, and 2006). For historical information on budget resolutions, see CRS Report RL30297,

Congressional Budget Resolutions: Selected Statistics and Information Guide, by Bill Heniff Jr.
and Justin Murray. In years when Congress is late in adopting, or does not adopt, a budget
resolution, the House and Senate independently may adopt “deeming resolution” provisions for
the purpose of enforcing certain budget levels. For further information on “deeming resolutions,”
see CRS Report RL31443, The “Deeming Resolution”: A Budget Enforcement Tool, by Robert
2 For further information on the reconciliation process, see CRS Report RL33030, The Budget
Reconciliation Process: House and Senate Procedures, by Robert Keith and Bill Heniff Jr.

calendar days during the month of July until the House has completed action on the
reconciliation legislation.3
The procedural rules set forth in the Budget Act are enforced by points of order.4
These timing points of order, however, are not self-enforcing and may be waived or set
aside by unanimous consent. In the House, such points of order may be waived by a
special rule, reported by the House Committee on Rules, providing for the consideration
of a measure. In the Senate, such points of order may be waived by motion. A motion
to waive the point of order enforcing the requirement that the Senate Appropriations
Committee make its suballocations before the Senate may consider any measure providing
new budget authority for a fiscal year requires a three-fifths vote (i.e., 60 Senators if there
are no vacancies), but the motion to waive other timing points of order requires a simple
majority vote.

3 Congress typically adjourns for its August recess at the end of July.
4 For more detailed information on Budget Act points of order and their application, see CRS
Report 97-865, Points of Order in the Congressional Budget Process, by James V. Saturno.