What Happens

      After conference, the bill  reflects Congress' final decisions.  Only rarely is there majority disagreement with the results of the conference.  This bill is sent to the President for action.  The President's signature is required to make the bill law and make funds available to the agency.   The bill as passed, with the appropriate reports (especially the conference report) provides the legal basis for agency use of funds.   However, the President may decide to veto the bill passed by Congress.  (A veto of parts of an appropriations bill, the "line item veto," came into effect in 1997, but was voided by the Supreme Court.)
 
     If there is no veto, the veto is overridden, or after veto issues are addressed and the President signs the resulting bill, procedural steps are taken to make funds available in the agency's accounts.   The Treasury Department and OMB take actions involving paperwork (issuing a warrant for funds and an apportionment of funds, generally by quarters of the fiscal year), but these actions currently have little significance; however, they may cause delays in funds availability.
 
     OMB could also withhold funds through a "rescission," but this action would have to be approved by Congress.   The President has little incentive to rescind funds; after all, it is his request that is being acted on.

Agency and Component Organization Actions

     There is little for the agency to do in this part of the process since it involves final Congressional actions and Presidential approval.   If there is the potential for a veto, or provisions of the enacted bill are such that the agency would be severely affected, then the agency's top leadership would be involved in advising on this decision.
 
     Agency staff needs to pay careful attention to the final language of the act itself as well as that of the reports.  Congressional earmarks are generally listed in the reports, and the final report may be different from what was available at earlier stages of the process.

Why

    

Timing

     Congress should pass appropriations bills in time for the President to act before October 1, but this seldom happens.   Actions generally take place during October, but may last longer.  For FY 1996, final action took place the following January after two shutdowns.  For FY 2000, negotiations went into November.

Documents

     Final appropriations bills and reports.  President's veto message, if any.

Links

     Status of final actions can be found at the developments links page.   There are also other site that track the status of legislation, such as www.usbudget.com (a subscription service).