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National Debt Glossary

Authorization

The basic legislation enacted by Congress that establishes or continues a federal agency, activity or program or that authorizes appropriations for an agency, activity or program.

The appropriations may be authorized for one year, several years or an indefinite period of time, and the authorization may be for a specific amount of money or an indefinite amount (“such sums as may be necessary”).

Authorizations of specific amounts are construed as ceilings on the amounts that subsequently may be appropriated in an appropriation bill, but not as minimums; either house may appropriate lesser amounts or nothing at all.

SOURCE: House Budget Committee

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