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How the federal budget is supposed to work and why it rarely does

$4.1 trillion. Divided government. 12 congressional subcommittees. What could go wrong?
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The congressional budgeting process only covers areas of discretionary federal spending, about 28% of overall federal spending.
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  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; 
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; 
  • Defense; 
  • Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; 
  • Financial Services and General Government; 
  • Homeland Security; 
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; 
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; 
  • Legislative Branch; 
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; 
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and 
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

Each bill has its own subcommittee, whose job it is to pass their appointed appropriations bill, sending it to the full committee and eventually onto the floor for a full vote. These bills are supposed to conform to the overall spending framework already set in the budget resolution.

A detailed breakdown of discretionary spending in President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget.

Devin Henry can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry