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Appropriation vs. Authorization

Congress annually considers several appropriations measures, which provide funding for numerous activities, for example, national defense, education, homeland security, crime, as well as general government operations. Congress has developed certain rules and practices for the consideration of appropriations measures, referred to as the congressional appropriations process.  Appropriations measures are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Congress has also established an authorization-appropriation process that provides for two separate types of measures -- authorization bills and appropriation bills. These measures perform different functions and are to be considered in sequence. First, authorization bills establish, continue, or modify agencies or programs. Second, appropriations measures may provide spending for the agencies and programs previously authorized.

Authorization acts establish, continue, or modify agencies or programs. For example, an authorization act may establish or modify programs within the Department of Defense. The authorization act also authorizes subsequent appropriations for specific agencies and programs, frequently setting spending ceilings for them. These authorizations of appropriations provisions may be permanent, annual, or multi-year authorizations. Annual and multi-year provisions require re-authorizations when they expire. Congress is not required to provide appropriations for an authorized discretionary spending program.

Authorization measures are under the jurisdiction of legislative committees such as the House Committees on Agriculture and Homeland Security, or the Senate Committees on Armed Services and the Judiciary.

What is an earmark? (Pursuant to clause 9(d)(e)&(f), Rule XXI of the House Rules)

A limited tariff benefit is a change to the tariff schedule and is directed to 10 or fewer beneficiaries.

A limited tax benefit is any revenue losing provision that provides a Federal tax deduction, credit, exclusion, or preference to 10 or fewer beneficiaries and contains eligibility criteria that are not uniform in application to potential beneficiaries.

A Congressional earmark is a provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator providing, authorizing or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula driven or competitive award process.

  • Bill or report language
  • Requested by a Member
  • Specific amount of $$$
  • Directed to an entity or targeted to a State, locality, Congressional  strict
  • EXCEPT, when through formula or competitive award

Congressman Wittman's Earmark Policy:

Congressman Wittman supports the House Republican Conference moratorium on earmarks for the 113th Congress: It is the policy of the House Republican Conference that no Member shall request a congressional earmark, limited tax benefit,  or limited tariff benefit as such terms have been described in the rules of the House.

Congressman Wittman has worked with numerous localities, agencies and organizations over the years on projects that are critical to the First District and will continue to work with them to help them achieve their objectives. For information about applying for Federal grants, please visit the grants page on the website or contact our office at 202-225-4261.

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