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National Debt Glossary

Legislative language that permits a federal agency to incur obligations and make payments from the Treasury for specified purposes, usually during a specified period of time; the specific amount of money made available by such language.

The Constitution prohibits payments from the Treasury except "in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law." The House of Representatives claims the exclusive right to originate appropriation bills — a claim the Senate denies in theory but accepts in practice. Consequently, the Senate Appropriations Committee usually waits for the arrival of a bill passed by the House and then reports it with whatever amendments it chooses.

SOURCE: House Budget Committee

See also: Appropriation act

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