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Is Past Prologue? A History of Congress's Major Appropriations Is Past Prologue? A History of Congress's Major Appropriations

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Is Past Prologue? A History of Congress's Major Appropriations

In the midst of the crisis over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, the House of Representatives and, to a lesser extent, the Senate have been active in Congress's annual attempt at passing legislation to fund the government.

As of July 26, the House has passed six of its 12 appropriations bills and the Senate just one. Although this already reflects progress over last year, when only two bills passed the House and none passed the Senate, the rest of the year may not go as smoothly.


The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee, reflecting the larger debt-ceiling and deficit debate, has already showed a desire to pare back on the Obama administration’s funding requests, leading to possible confrontations with the Democratic-controlled Senate.

(RELATED: House Panel Slates Hubble Successor for Elimination)

In the heat of the debates over what spending levels should be for the next fiscal year, it’s worth a look at spending levels in past years.


Below are the amounts spent as percentages of the total budget for executive departments and Congress from 1962 through 2011, based on data from the Office of Management and Budget. For departments that didn’t exist in 1962, such as Veterans' Affairs and Education, OMB extrapolated the data from federal funding during those years as if those departments did exist.

Rollover the chart to find out more information about individual departments.


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