GAO Glossary of Terms and Definitions (September 2005)

Appropriation Act

A statute, under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, that generally provides legal authority for federal agencies to incur obligations and to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. An appropriation act fulfills the requirement of Article I, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution, which provides that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Under the rules of both houses, an appropriation act should follow enactment of authorizing legislation. (See also Appropriations under Forms of Budget Authority under Budget Authority; Authorizing Legislation; Limitation.)

Major types of appropriation acts are regular, supplemental, deficiency, and continuing. Regular appropriation acts are all appropriation acts that are not supplemental, deficiency, or continuing. Currently, regular annual appropriation acts that provide funding for the continued operation of federal departments, agencies, and various government activities are considered by Congress annually. From time to time, supplemental appropriation acts are also enacted. When action on regular appropriation bills is not completed before the beginning of the fiscal year, a continuing resolution (often referred to simply as “CR”) may be enacted in a bill or joint resolution to provide funding for the affected agencies for the full year, up to a specified date, or until their regular appropriations are enacted. A deficiency appropriation act provides budget authority to cover obligations incurred in excess of available budget authority. (See also Continuing Appropriation/Continuing Resolution; Supplemental Appropriation; Deficiency Appropriation.)

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Appropriated Entitlement


Appropriation Rider