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As a federal agency that administers discretionary programs, IMLS is funded through the annual federal appropriations process. This begins by working with the White House Office of Management and Budget each fall to determine an appropriate budget request for the next fiscal year (October 1 - September 30). For example, in the fall of 2006, this process began for the budget request for Fiscal Year 2008, which begins on October 1, 2007.
In early February the President issues his request—for IMLS and all federal agencies that use discretionary funds—to Congress. Using this request as a guideline, Congress then works to pass an appropriations bill that the President will sign into law. There are several stages to this process, including passage of a budget resolution, drafting of the specific appropriations bills, voting on proposed amendments to the bills, and conferences to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the bills. Often Congress is unable to finish its appropriations work before the next fiscal year begins in October. When that happens, the legislature usually passes continuing resolutions, which maintain spending at current levels until new appropriations are made. Sometimes several appropriations bills are rolled into one "omnibus" bill.
Throughout this process, IMLS works with the congressional appropriations committees and others to increase understanding of the agency’s programs and financial needs. Sometimes the appropriations subcommittees with responsibility for drafting the bill that includes IMLS spending — Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies — will hold a hearing at which the Director of IMLS testifies in support of the President’s request.
When both the House and Senate have voted to pass identical versions of an appropriations bill, the bill is sent to the President and becomes law when he signs it. As with all bills, the President has the option to veto. But unlike other bills, appropriations measures must eventually be enacted—or continuing resolutions must be passed—in order for the government’s discretionary programs to continue. Appropriations laws also differ from most other laws in that they are in effect only until the end of the fiscal year.
IMLS Appropriations Table: FY15–FY17 (PDF, 78KB)