The Federal Budget Process…A long and Winding Road Towards Funding for Cancer Prevention

Published on February 14, 2012

Updated on November 21, 2017

The process of funding the Federal government is mandated by Congressional Budget Act of 1974. It is a complex process that often dominates Congressional activity for months at a time. The cycle begins in February and is supposed to end with the beginning of a new fiscal year each October 1.

Prevent Cancer plays a role in this process, advocating each step of the way for maximum funding to be directed to research and cancer control efforts that will positively impact our ability to prevent or detect cancer early. And with a growing deficit and shrinking discretionary spending, securing funding has become a greater challenge in recent years.

On Monday, President Obama took the first step to move the Federal government towards a FY 2013 budget, with the release of his budget request. The President’s budget contains either flat funding, or small reductions in many of the programs that are critical to moving research and cancer control forward. And perhaps more alarmingly, money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (created by the Affordable Care Act) is used to fund existing cancer prevention and control efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as opposed to serving as an infusion of NEW MONEY into prevention efforts.

So while the initial funding proposal is on the table, the process is just beginning. Congress will now begin discussion on the President’s budget and create their own budget proposal known as the Budget Resolution. As with any bill, in order to be enacted, the House and Senate versions must become reconciled with agreement on every detail.

We then move into what I consider the heart of this cycle, the appropriations process. The budget is separated into 13 separate areas, often by agency, and 13 individual appropriations bills are created. The Appropriations Committee, and their subcommittees, hold hearings and engage in debate over the specifics of discretionary spending. Each appropriations bill must be passed, reconciled between the House and Senate, passed again, and signed by the President. If the President believes programs or funding levels approved by Congress vary too greatly from those set by the president in his or her Budget Proposal, the president can choose to veto one or all of the spending bills.

Eventually, after months of debate and discussion, the government, and cancer prevention, will be funded. Prevent Cancer will be working every step of the way to ensure that the budget supports prevention to the maximum extent possible. We will be looking to you to add your voice to this effort as well. To receive information and learn how you can weigh in on this process, join our Advocacy Action Center today!

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