Demystifying the Federal Budget Process

By Cait |


the President's Budget is the first part of the budget processIf you’ve signed up for our e-mail list, you may have noticed that we’ve asked you to contact your lawmakers in support of public media funding a few times this year. Trust us, there’s a method to our madness, and it’s based on the federal budget process.

Here’s how it works:

The federal budget process starts when the President sends his annual annual budget to Congress. This is an outline of what he ideally wants Congress to fund.

Congress reviews the President’s Budget and sometimes writes their own Budget. Congress’s Budget sets priorities and rules for federal spending but doesn’t make the final funding decisions for federally supported programs.

During the next step of the budget process, the House and Senate can create their own separate Budgets and agree on a final Budget Resolution, which is a compromise between their Budgets.

This step can be important because the Budget Resolution sets the overall guidelines on how much the government can spend and includes important instructions on how the money should be used.

The Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate then use these instructions to write individual spending bills, deciding how much money each federal program should receive.

Sometimes our supporters ask us, “Is it really worth contacting my lawmakers?” or “Why is it important to contact my lawmakers more than once?”

Here is our answer: The federal budget process happens every year, and it’s a long (and confusing) process. If we don’t continue to tell Congress that public media funding matters, then they won’t continue to fund it. Without federal funding for public media, some of our favorite stations would be forced to shut down and some of our most beloved programs would cease to exist. This is why it’s really important that our Members of Congress hear from us every step of the way.

We hope you’ll continue to let your lawmakers know that our public media matters.