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Senate Committee on Appropriations

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Title: Senate Committee on Appropriations  
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Senate Committee on Appropriations

The United States Senate Committee on Appropriations is a standing committee of the United States Senate. It has jurisdiction over all discretionary spending legislation in the Senate.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is the largest committee in the U.S. Senate, with 30 members at the end of the 111th Congress. Its role is defined by the U.S. Constitution, which requires "appropriations made by law" prior to the expenditure of any money from the Treasury, and is therefore one of the most powerful committees in the Senate.[1] The committee was first organized on March 6, 1867, when power over appropriations was taken out of the hands of the Finance Committee.[2]

The chairperson of the Appropriations Committee has enormous power to bring home special projects (sometimes referred to as "pork barrel spending") for his or her state as well as having the final say on other senators' appropriation requests.[3] For example, in fiscal year 2005 per capita federal spending in Alaska, the home state of then-Chairman Ted Stevens, was $12,000, double the national average. Alaska has 11,772 special earmarked projects for a combined cost of $15,780,623,000. This represents about four percent of the overall spending in the $388 billion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 passed by Congress.[4]

Because of the power of this committee and the fact that senators represent entire states, not just parts of states, it is considered extremely difficult to unseat a member of this committee at an election - especially if he or she is a subcommittee chair, or "Cardinal". Since 1990, three members of this committee have gone on to serve as Senate Majority Leader for at least one session of Congress: Tom Daschle (committee member August 12, 1991 - December 10, 1999; Senate Majority Leader January 3 - 20, 2001 and June 6, 2001 - January 3, 2003), Bill Frist (committee member April 17, 1995 - December 29, 2002; Senate Majority Leader January 3, 2003 - January 3, 2007) and Harry Reid (committee member August 13, 1989 - December 23, 2006; subcommittee chair March 15, 1991 - December 24, 1994 and June 11, 2001 - December 22, 2002; Senate Majority Leader January 3, 2007 - ).

The appropriations process

The federal budget is divided into two main categories: discretionary spending and mandatory spending. Each appropriations subcommittee develops a draft appropriations bill covering each agency under its jurisdiction based on the Congressional Budget Resolution, which is drafted by an analogous Senate Budget committee. Each subcommittee must adhere to the spending limits set by the budget resolution and allocations set by the full Appropriations Committee, though the full Senate may vote to waive those limits if 60 senators vote to do so. The committee also reviews supplemental spending bills (covering unforeseen or emergency expenses not previously budgeted).

Each appropriations bill must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president prior to the start of the federal fiscal year, October 1. If that target is not met, as has been common in recent years, the committee drafts a continuing resolution, which is then approved by Congress and signed by the President to keep the federal government operating until the individual bills are approved.


Members, 113th Congress
Majority (Democrat) Minority (Republican)

Source: 2013 S296


Subcommittee Chair Ranking Member
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Mark Pryor (D-AR) Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Jon Tester (D-MT) Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Defense Dick Durbin (D-IL) Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Energy and Water Development Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Financial Services and General Government Tom Udall (D-NM) Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Homeland Security Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Dan Coats (R-IN)
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Jack Reed (D-RI) Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Tom Harkin (D-IA) Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Legislative Branch Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) John Hoeven (R-ND)
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Tim Johnson (D-SD) Mark Kirk (R-IL)
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Patty Murray (D-WA) Susan Collins (R-ME)

Committee reorganization during the 110th Congress

At the outset of the 110th Congress, Chairman Robert Byrd and Chairman Dave Obey, his counterpart on the House Appropriations Committee, developed a committee reorganization plan that provided for common subcommittee structures between both houses, a move that the both chairmen hope will allow Congress to "complete action on each of the government funding on time for the first time since 1994."[5][6] The subcommittees were last overhauled between the 107th and 108th Congresses, after the creation of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security and again during the 109th Congress, when the number of subcommittees was reduced from 13 to 12.

A key part of the new subcommittee organization was the establishment of a new Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which consolidates funding for the Treasury Department, the United States federal judiciary, and the District of Columbia. These functions were previously handled by two separate Senate subcommittees.

Chairmen, 1867–present

Chairman Party State Years
Lot M. Morrill Republican Maine 1867–1869
William P. Fessenden Republican Maine 1869
Lot M. Morrill Republican Maine 1869–1871
Cornelius Cole Republican California 1871–1873
Lot M. Morrill Republican Maine 1873–1876
William Windom Republican Minnesota 1876–1879
Henry G. Davis Democratic West Virginia 1879–1881
William B. Allison Republican Iowa 1881–1893
Francis M. Cockrell Democratic Missouri 1893–1895
William B. Allison Republican Iowa 1895–1908
Eugene Hale Republican Maine 1908–1911
Francis E. Warren Republican Wyoming 1911–1913
Thomas S. Martin Democratic Virginia 1913–1919
Francis E. Warren Republican Wyoming 1919–1929
Wesley L. Jones Republican Washington 1929–1932
Frederick Hale Republican Maine 1932–1933
Carter Glass Democratic Virginia 1933–1946
Kenneth D. McKellar Democratic Tennessee 1946–1947
Styles Bridges Republican New Hampshire 1947–1949
Kenneth D. McKellar Democratic Tennessee 1949–1953
Styles Bridges Republican New Hampshire 1953–1955
Carl Hayden Democratic Arizona 1955–1969
Richard B. Russell Jr. Democratic Georgia 1969–1971
Allen J. Ellender Democratic Louisiana 1971–1972
John L. McClellan Democratic Arkansas 1972–1977
Warren G. Magnuson Democratic Washington 1977–1981
Mark O. Hatfield Republican Oregon 1981–1987
John C. Stennis Democratic Mississippi 1987–1989
Robert C. Byrd Democratic West Virginia 1989–1995
Mark O. Hatfield Republican Oregon 1995–1997
Theodore F. Stevens Republican Alaska 1997–2001
Robert C. Byrd Democratic West Virginia 2001
Theodore F. Stevens Republican Alaska 2001
Robert C. Byrd Democratic West Virginia 2001–2003
Theodore F. Stevens Republican Alaska 2003–2005
W. Thad Cochran Republican Mississippi 2005–2007
Robert C. Byrd Democratic West Virginia 2007–2009
Daniel K. Inouye Democratic Hawaii 2009–2012
Barbara Mikulski Democratic Maryland 2012-present

See also



Further reading

  • Frumin, Alan S. "Appropriations" in Government Printing Office, 1992.
  • Munson, Richard. The Cardinals of Capitol Hill; The Men and Women Who Control Government Spending. Grove Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8021-1460-1.
  • Senate Committee on Appropriations. . Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2008.
  • Streeter, Sandy. Congressional Research Service, 2008.

External links

  • U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Official Website,
  • Status of Appropriations Legislation,
  • The Washington Post
  • Congressional Research Service.
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