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The belief that the best predictor of this year's budget is the last year's budget, plus a little bit more.

uncontrollable expenditures

Expenditures that are determined not by a fixed amount of money appropriated by Congress but by how many eligible beneficiaries there are for a program or by previous obligations of the government.


Policies for which Congress has obligated itself to pay X level of benefits to Y number of recipients that must be eligible for the benefits.

House Ways and Means Committee

The House of Representatives committee that, along with the Senate Finance Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.

Senate Finance Committee*

The Senate committee that, along with the House Ways and Means Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.

Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974

An act designed to reform the congressional budgetary process. Its supporters hoped that it would also make Congress less dependent on the president's budget and better able to set and meet its own budgetary goals.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO)

Advises Congress on the probable consequences of its decisions, forecasts revenues, and is a counterweight to the president's OMB.

budget resolution

A resolution binding Congress to a total expenditure level, supposedly the bottom line of all federal spending for all programs.


A congressional process though which program authorizations are revised to achieve required savings. It also usually also includes tax or other revenue adjustments.

authorization bill

An act of Congress that establishes, continues, or changes a discretionary government program or an entitlement. It specifies program goals and maximum expenditures for discretionary programs.

appropriations bill

An act of Congress that actually funds programs within limits established by authorization bills. It usually covers one year.

continuing resolutions

When Congress cannot reach agreement and pass appropriations bills, these resolutions allow agencies to spend at the level of the previous year.

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