Background: Minibus, Omnibus, and other Types of Appropriations Bills:
Overview: For nearly two centuries, “regular appropriations bills” were considered by the House and Senate as individual measures and enacted as standalone laws. However, since 1986 various forms of omnibus, minibus bills, and continuing resolutions have become the norm.
12 Regular Appropriations Bills: The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are both organized into 12 subcommittees, with each subcommittee having responsibility for developing one regular annual appropriations bill. Click the red navigation bar above (or the chart on our home page) for the status of this year’s 12 regular bills, or click on the links below.
- Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, which oversees funding for the USDA (except the Forest Service) and other agencies;
- Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, which oversees funding for the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, NASA, and other agencies;
- Defense, which oversees funding for the military, the intelligence community, and other national defense related agencies;
- Energy and Water Development, which oversees funding for the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other agencies;
- Financial Services and General Government, which oversees funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, and other government functions;
- Homeland Security, which oversees funding for the Department of Homeland Security;
- Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which oversees funding for the Department of the Interior, the EPA, the U.S. Forest Service, and a number of independent agencies;
- Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, which oversees funding for the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and other agencies;
- Legislative Branch, which oversees funding for the House of Representatives and Senate, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, the GAO, and other legislative branch functionsl
- Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, which oversees funding for military construction (including military housing), the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies;
- State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, which oversees funding for the U.S. State Department, USAID, and related programs; and
- Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, which oversees funding for the Department of Transportation, HUD, and related agencies.
Continuing Resolutions (CR): Due to escalating disagreements on fiscal policy, it is rare for Congress to complete action on all 12 appropriations bills by October 1; the last time was 1996. Instead, Congress passes stop-gap measures, called continuing resolutions (“CRs”), to keep agencies operating at a particular level of funding (often the previous year’s funding level, with some adjustments) while they endeavor to complete appropriations action.
- Sometimes, multiple CRs are enacted adopted before final agreement on appropriations for the fiscal year is reached.
- CRs are enacted in the form of joint resolutions requiring presidential signature.
- Occasionally, political gridlock prevents adoption of a CR and the federal government shuts down. Lengthy government shutdowns occurred in 1995 and 2013. (For more information, see: http://fedweb.com/government-shutdown/).
Omnibus Appropriations Bills: In recent years, the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate typically begin regular consideration of each of the 12 appropriations bills, producing House and Senate committee reports and legislative language for most or all of the 12 bills, but eventually congressional leadership makes a decision to combine some or all of the bills into an “omnibus” — or combined — measure, usually in order to expedite passage and/or resolve outstanding differences through a comprehensive negotiation.
Minibus: A combined appropriations bill that includes fewer than all 12 regular appropriations bills is sometimes called a “minibus.”
Cromnibus: A bill that continues several of the 12 regular appropriations bills, and continues funding for other departments and agencies at current levels (i.e. a continuing resolution) is sometimes called a “cromnibus” because it combines features of a “CR” and a “minibus.”
Supplemental Appropriations: In addition to the amounts provided in a regular appropriations measure, the President may request, and Congress may enact, additional funding in the form of one or more supplemental appropriations measures (“supplementals”). Supplementals are used to provide funding where the need is too urgent to be postponed until enactment of the next regular appropriations bill — often in response to disasters or national security requirements. Current status of supplemental appropriations.
Rescissions: Following enactment of appropriations for a fiscal year, the President or Congress make seek to cancel appropriated funds. Current status of rescission bills.
History of Omnibus Appropriations:
- CRS: Background Report on Omnibus Appropriations Acts
- Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 1986 (P.L. 99-190; December 19, 1985)
- Continuing Appropriations Act, 1987 (P.L. 99-591; October 18, 1986)
- Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 1988 (P.L. 100-202; December 22, 1987)
- Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-134; April 26, 1996)
- Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997 (P.L. 104-208; September 30, 1996)
- Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999 (P.L. 105-277; October 21, 1998)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2000 (P.L. 106-113; November 29, 1999)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001 (P.L. 106-554; December 21, 2000)
- FY 2002 – no omnibus bill
- Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003 (P.L. 108-7; February 20, 2003)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 (P.L. 108-199; January 23, 2004)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (P.L. 108-447; December 8, 2004)
- FY 2006 – no omnibus bill
- FY 2007 – no omnibus bill
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161; December 26, 2007)
- Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 110-329; September 30, 2008)
- Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8; March 11, 2009)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117; December 16, 2009)
- FY 2011 – no omnibus bill
- Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55; November 18, 2011)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74; December 23, 2011)
- Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6; March 26, 2013)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76; January 17, 2014)
- Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235; December 16, 2014)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113; December 18, 2015)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31; May 4, 2017)
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141; March 23, 2018)