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Friday, May 17, 2013

The Enactment of Appropriations Measures During Lame Duck Sessions

Jessica Tollestrup
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process

Nine of the past 10 Congresses, covering the 103rd Congress through the 112th Congress, have concluded with a lame duck session (no such session occurred in 1996, during the 104th Congress). The enactment of appropriations measures has been an important element of some, but not all, of these lame duck sessions. Although no regular or continuing appropriation measures were enacted into law during lame duck sessions held in 1994, 1998, 2008, and 2012, a total of 14 regular and 14 continuing appropriations measures were enacted into law during the five other lame duck sessions held in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2010.

Although some (and occasionally all) of the regular appropriations bills for a fiscal year may be enacted into law before it begins, in recent decades it has been common for at least some of the regular appropriations bills to be enacted after the start of the fiscal year. In the past, this has triggered the necessity for continuing resolutions to extend spending authority until the annual appropriations acts have been enacted and the consideration of regular appropriations legislation during the last quarter of the calendar year, or even during the following session.

A lame duck session occurs during the period following election day, which is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each even-numbered year, and before the convening of a new Congress about two months later in early January. Several factors may contribute to the occurrence of lame duck sessions, including the need to deal with unfinished appropriations or other budgetary matters.

This report provides information on the enactment of annual appropriations acts in the years that lame duck sessions occurred between 1994 and 2012 (FY1995, FY1999, FY2001, FY2003, FY2005, FY2007, FY2009, FY2011, and FY2013). Between calendar years 1994 and 2012, lame duck sessions have in some instances afforded Congress an opportunity to complete action on regular appropriations for a fiscal year. In other instances, lame duck sessions played little or no role in this regard, as action on regular appropriations was completed well before or after a lame duck session. In total, 45 of the 92 regular appropriations acts during this period were enacted into law before the beginning of the applicable lame duck session, 14 were enacted during a lame duck session, and 33 were enacted afterwards.

Continuing appropriations measures were also an important element in some, but not all, of the lame duck sessions that occurred between calendar years 1994 and 2012. In total, 30 of the 53 continuing resolutions were enacted into law before the beginning of the applicable lame duck session, 14 were enacted into law during the lame duck session, and 9 were enacted afterwards.

Date of Report: April 23, 2013
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: RL34597
Price: $29.95

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