The Chairmen of the Senate and House Budget Committeesreview the President’s budget, hear testimony from various executive branchofficials, and create their own budget document. The budget document they eachcreate is known as the “Chairman’s Mark.” The Mark describes the chairman’spriorities in words and numbers and includes legislative language.The Mark becomes the document that the Budget Committees will work from to formthe budget resolution.
The Senate and House Budget Committees both complete aprocess called Mark-Up.This means the committees are reviewing and amending the Chairman’s Mark. EachBudget Committee must pass the budget before it can move on to consideration byeach body – the Senate and House. The budgets are different at this point.
Both the House and Senate consider their respective budgetresolutions on the floor of each chamber. Senators cannot filibuster thebudget resolution because the budget resolution has special rules that limitthe time for debate once it has started. After both houses pass a budgetresolution, a conference committee is formed to work out the differencesbetween the two resolutions. The conference committee budget resolution is thenvoted on by both houses.
The budget resolution passed by the House and Senate becomesa guide for consideration of the various appropriation bills. The appropriationbills are what actually become laws and give legal authority for agencies to incur obligations.
The process described above is how the legislature is “supposed”to pass a budget resolution. However, this process has become very difficult inrecent years and Congress does not always pass a budget resolution in a timelymanner. Recently, there has been more attention on the process and even some discussionabout reform. The Senate Budget Committee held a hearing in October 2011 tohear testimony about options for reform.
Finally, Chairman Conrad of the Senate Budget Committeerecently gave a floor speech describing the Budget Control Act of 2011. In this speech he addressed critics who said Congress had not passed a budget in over 1,000 days.