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From An Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of the United States for the year 1803

Federal Budget: Sources of Information

June 2014
Updated June 2016

Table of Contents

Background & Basics
Current Budget
Historical Budget Information
Understanding the Past
LC Subject Headings


Image (left): For compensation to the President and Vice President of the United States...
From An Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of the United States for the year 1803.
Library of Congress General Collections.
Courtesy of Gulnar Nagashybayeva


This is a collection of titles for those who need to learn about the budget process and some of its history.

A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process (GAO, 2005) [PDF format: 4.74 MB/182 pp.]

Library of Congress How are Laws are Made

Budget System and Concepts (Office of Management & Budget) [PDF format: 1.13 MB/62 pp.]

Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget (1996-2002) External Link

Budget process law annotated : including the Congressional Budget Act, Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, and related budget-process legislation. Committee on the Budget, United States Senate ; annotations by William G. Dauster. Washington, D.C. U.S. G.P.O., 1991
LC Call Number: KF6222 1991
LC Catalog Record: 93206300

There are several pieces of legislation/laws pertaining to the overall operation of Congress, but the main provisions can be found in Title 2 of the United States Code. The official time line for the process is set in 2 U.S.C. 631.

1. U.S. Constitution (Article I, section 9, clause 7) states:

"No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time."

2. An Act to define and establish the fiscal year of the Treasury of the United States. (Aug. 26, 1842, 5 Stat. 536)

This is the original Act that set the fiscal year as of July 1. Currently the budget cycle starts on October 1. The full text of this can be found in "The Statutes at Large and Treaties of the United States of America," in Volume 5 (24th-28th, 1835-1845) by clicking on the Title Page and then typing in 536 in Century of Lawmaking resource for the Statutes.

3. Congressional Budget Act of 1974. (Pub.L. 93-344, 88 Stat. 297) [PDF format: 187 KB / 68 pp.]

Titles I- IX are collectively known as the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (part of the overall Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974). Title II created the Congressional Budget Office, and this is the legislation that moved the fiscal year start from July to October. This act is the basic blueprint for budget procedures today with some modifications made since.

4. Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (99th Congress, S.1702, Pub.L. 99-177, title II, December 12, 1985, 99 Stat. 1038, 2 U.S.C. 900) and Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Reaffirmation Act of 1987 (Pub.L. 100-119, title I, Sept. 29, 1987, 101 Stat. 754, 2 U.S.C. 900) (both often known as Gramm-Rudman)

One of the first attempts at imposing binding constraints on federal spending; its spending caps have become part of every subsequent U.S. budget.

5. Budget Enforcement Act of 1990. (Pub.L. 101-508, title XIII; 104 Stat. 1388-573; codified as amended in scattered sections of 2 U.S.C. & 15 U.S.C. 1022) (title XIII of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990)

An effort to enforce the deficit reduction and revise the budget control process of the Federal Government. Created two new budget control processes: 1) a set of caps on annually-appropriated spending, and 2) a "pay-as-you-go" or "PAYGO" process for entitlements and taxes.

Last updated: 06/29/2016

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