October 22, 2014

Use of Supplemental Spending Bills Has Increased Significantly in Recent Years, Often to Evade Limits

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

One of the first post-recess priorities for the Appropriations Committees in Congress will likely be considering legislation for “supplemental” spending in the current fiscal year. Supplemental spending bills are usually considered each spring and are intended to provide funding for wars, natural disasters and other unforeseen events that could not be funded through the regular appropriations process.

The President’s budget included a request for $47 billion in supplemental funding for war-related activities, disaster relief and other purposes. Since then, the President has also requested additional supplemental funding for purposes such as providing aid to Haiti after the earthquake there.

In recent years, supplemental spending has increased significantly. While many of the items in supplemental legislation clearly qualify as emergencies, the bills also frequently include other items for the sole purpose of evading the budget resolution’s spending limits.