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
Frequently Asked Questions: National Debt
- How did the national debt get to be so big?
- What's the difference between the debt and the deficit?
- Why can't the government just print more money to get out of debt?
- How much U.S. debt is owned by foreign countries?