restricted access Chapter 2. How Short-Term Authorizations Work
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2 How Short-Term Authorizations Work In 1965, Congress created the Appalachian Regional Commission. Among other things, this legislation authorized the creation of the commission by stating in section 101 that: (a) There is hereby established an Appalachian Regional Commission. . . . In carrying out the purposes of this Act, the Commission shall . . . develop . . . comprehensive and coordinated plans and programs.1 The act also contained the following section, which served to make the authorization short-term: Sec. 401. In addition to the appropriations authorized in section 201 for the Appalachian development highway system, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated for the period ended June 30, 1967, to be available until expended, not to exceed $252,400,000 to carry out this Act.2 This example illustrates three general features of authorization legislation in the post–World War II era. First, there is a substantive component that establishes a program and structures its operations so that the program will be implemented in the manner that the committee desires (Oleszek 1989; Schick 1995; Tiefer 1989). Second, authorizing legislation has a fiscal component that authorizes the appropriation of funds. This signals to appropriators and to other policy stakeholders the funding levels that the authorizing committee thinks are appropriate for the program. Third, the authorization may be limited in time, thus short-term in nature. The idea of control is the basis for these components of an authorization. The committee wants to control how a program operates, influence how much money is spent to make this happen, and identify the time at which the program should be reconsidered by Congress. Committees make an authorization short-term to attempt to achieve control over the program on an ongoing basis. 10 Hall_CH2_3rd.qxd 8/16/2004 4:51 PM Page 10 The Rules: How They Work and How to Break Them The use of short-term authorizations is rule-based; it leverages House and Senate rules prohibiting unauthorized appropriations that were adopted in the mid-1800s. House rule XXI, clause 2, k and Senate rule XVI both state that (a) no appropriation shall be made for a program that does not have an authorization, and (b) no appropriation bill shall make changes to existing law (Schick 1995; Tiefer 1989). Short-term authorizations leverage this rule by making a portion of the authorization, typically the authorization of appropriations, temporary. The language that was adopted by the House and Senate in the mid1800s prohibiting unauthorized appropriations has been retained, with only slight modification, to this date, as tables 2.1 and 2.2 show (Schick 1995; Tiefer 1989). Although the Senate rules on unauthorized appropriations are more lenient than the rules of the House, both chambers have, for more than 150 years, attempted to limit substantially unauthorized appropriations , except in the case of continuing expenditures for public work projects and other capital projects for which construction is already in progress (Schick 1995). The rules themselves contain exceptions that allow unauthorized appropriations to occur (Schick 1995; Tiefer 1989). Continuing resolutions, which provide interim funding in cases where regular appropriations bills do not pass, are not covered by the prohibition against unauthorized appropriations . There are also procedures for waiving the rules entirely. In the House, the Rules Committee can assign appropriations bills a special rule that waives the point of order on unauthorized appropriations.In some years,the percentage of the nondefense discretionary appropriations that are for unauthorized programs can be quite high (Meyers 1988). The rule can cover all or a limited number of unauthorized appropriations in a bill. For example , on July 24, 1991, the House of Representatives considered the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The rule for this bill—House Resolution 200—read, in part: Resolved, That during the consideration of the bill (H.R. 2942) making appropriations for the Department of Transportation and related agencies . . . all points of order against provisions in the bill for failure to comply with the provisions of clauses 2 and 6 of rule XXI are hereby waived. It shall be in order to consider the amendments printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution, if offered by the Member specified or his designee, and all points of order against the amendments for failure to comply with the provisions of clause 7 of rule XVI and clause 2 of rule XXI are hereby waived.3 11 How Short-Term Authorizations Work Hall_CH2_3rd.qxd 8/16/2004 4:51 PM Page 11 Table 2.1 The Rules...


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Subject Headings

  • Budget process -- United States.
  • Budget -- United States.
  • United States. Congress -- Committees.
  • Government spending -- United States -- Decision making.
  • United States -- Appropriations and expenditures -- Decision making.
  • Policy sciences.
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