The Federal Budget and the Constitution

Constitutional Question:

What are the roles of the President and the houses of Congress in preparing the federal budget?

Constitutional Principle: Separation of Powers

Student PDF

Constitution Resources from the Bill of Rights Institute’s Americapedia:

News Resources:

Questions to Consider:

1.     Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution requires that “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”

  • What does “revenue” mean in this context?
  • What process does Congress follow when one house has proposed a bill?
  • Why do you think the Founders decided that all bills for raising revenue must come from the House of Representatives, and not from the Senate, or from another branch of the national government?
  • If /when both houses agree on a bill, what is the next step?

2.     Article II, Section 3, describing the powers and duties of the President, states that he “shall… recommend to [Congress’s] consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

  • What is the President’s role in lawmaking?
  • What is the President’s role in approving laws?

3.     The President can veto laws passed by Congress, while Congress can override a veto with a 2/3rds vote of both houses. How has President Obama made use of his veto power in the debate over the federal budget?

4.      Why do you think the Founders established a multi-step legislation process, requiring more than half the lawmakers in each chamber to agree before a law can be sent to the President for his signature?