Federal Funding 101

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Federal Funding 101 

Download this article from Academic Pharmacy Now: Jan/Feb/Mar 2012: Federal Funding 101

Learning the appropriations process can help inform the advocacy of academic pharmacy.

Washington has begun turning its thoughts to the funding of federal programs for the next fiscal year. Here’s an appropriations process summary that can help you prepare advocacy initiatives related to funding.

President’s Budget Request

The sequential development, deliberation and passage of annual funding legislation is referred to as regular order. On Valentine’s Day, President Obama started the funding cycle in regular order by presenting a FY13 budget request. Obama’s budget is referred to as a request because there is no legal responsibility for Congress to take the president’s budget into consideration. The president’s budget is a political document, developed through a series of negotiations with the Secretaries of the federal agencies. It reflects the public policy interests of the president and his cabinet members.

House and Senate Budgets

The House and Senate each undertake the development of a respective budget resolution. If followed, regular order leads to a budget resolution that is a result of House of Representative and Senate negotiations, or conference. This conference budget resolution is voted upon within each chamber and, if passed by each, serves as the ceiling for total funding of the several budget functions. Budget functions are large policy areas, such as education (Function 500) and Health (Function 550). Budget functions don’t align exactly with agency programs, as several agencies may be engaged in health activities included in the health function. The budget resolution is another political document. It does not require the president’s signature after passage. It merely establishes the spending thresholds for the next step in regular order, the appropriations process. Establishing the funding levels for federal programs for each fiscal year is the legal responsibility of Congress, granted in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution.

The Appropriations Process

The appropriations committee of each chamber is comprised of 12 subcommittees aligned with the federal agencies they fund. Using the budget resolution as a guide, the total funding for federal programs is established by the leadership, chairman and ranking member of both chambers of Congress. The total amount of funds that will be available to federal programs is referred to as the 302a allocation, as it refers to the section of the Internal Revenue Code that governs the appropriations process. From the 302a allocation, the 12 subcommittees receive an allotment. This subcommittee allotment is referred to as the 302b allocation, because section 302b of the Internal Revenue Code governs the subcommittee allocations.

Release of the 302b allocations allows subcommittees to discuss the distribution of the allocation among the programs within the subcommittee’s jurisdiction. This discussion is informed by the input of the administration, members of Congress, private citizens and organizations through oral presentation during hearings and through written testimony. Professional staff of the subcommittees and the full appropriations committee assimilate this input into a committee bill that recommends the funding levels for the next fiscal year for the programs within the jurisdiction of the subcommittee.

The members of the subcommittee vote on the recommendation, followed by a vote by the full appropriations committee. Full committee reports are sent to the respective chamber for consideration by its members and may be further amended. Successful passage of the appropriations committee bill by each chamber leads to a negotiation to resolve differences between the bills passed by the two chambers. The final negotiated or conference bill is then voted on by each chamber and when passed it is sent to the president for his signature. This is the regular order of the appropriations process.

Regular order provides several points in which an interested individual or organization can influence federal funding. Advocacy can influence:

  • The president’s budget.
  • The budget resolutions of the House and Senate.
  • The 302a allocation.
  • The 302b allocation.
  • The hearings of the subcommittees and full appropriations committee by oral and written testimony and questions submitted to committee members for presentation during the hearing.
  • Amendments to a report when it is up for a vote in their respective chamber, or during the conferencing of the reports.

Report Language

Each subcommittee and full appropriations committee bill includes instructions, in the form of a report, to the agency regarding how the funds should be used. Influencing the report language can explicitly inform an agency on how those funds should be used so that they best align with the interests of public policy.

For more information on the appropriations process, check out the resources listed in the sidebar. While you prepare for advocacy efforts, please contact me with any questions. At the same time, know that AACP is working to influence the overall funding levels of federal programs of interest to academic pharmacy during all stages of the appropriations process. We work on your behalf independently and in collaboration with other organizations that share our interests. AACP annually submits written testimony to the appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the majority of programs of interest to academic pharmacy—the appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

William G. Lang is Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at AACP; wlang@aacp.org.

Resources

U.S. Constitution
http://loc.gov/law/help/usconlaw/index.php

Appropriations Committee Web sites
House: http://appropriations.house.gov/
Senate: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/

AACP Appropriations Charts
http://tinyurl.com/36tlnza

AACP Appropriations Testimony
http://tinyurl.com/6od8yka

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