Senate Appropriations Committee
Standing committee
Seal of the United States Senate.svg

United States Senate
117th Congress
FormedMarch 6, 1867
ChairPatrick Leahy (D)
Since February 3, 2021
Ranking memberRichard Shelby (R)
Since February 3, 2021
Seats30 members[a]
Political partiesMajority (15)
  •   Democratic (15)
Minority (15)
Policy areasAppropriations bills, Discretionary spending, Rescission bills
Oversight authorityFederal government of the United States
House counterpartHouse Committee on Appropriations
Meeting place
304 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., S-128 United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.
  1. ^ Democrats are in the majority due to the tiebreaking power of Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves ex officio as the president of the Senate.

The United States Senate Committee on Appropriations is a standing committee of the United States Senate. It has jurisdiction over all discretionary spending legislation in the Senate.

The entrance to the Appropriations Committee Suite in the United States Capitol
The entrance to the Appropriations Committee Suite in the United States Capitol

The Senate Appropriations Committee is the largest committee in the U.S. Senate, with 30 members in the 117th Congress. Its role is defined by the U.S. Constitution, which requires "appropriations made by law" prior to the expenditure of any money from the Treasury, and the committee is therefore one of the most powerful committees in the Senate.[1] The committee was first organized on March 6, 1867, when power over appropriations was taken out of the hands of the Finance Committee.[2]

The chairman of the Appropriations Committee has enormous power to bring home special projects (sometimes referred to as "pork barrel spending") for his or her state as well as having the final say on other senators' appropriation requests.[3] For example, in fiscal year 2005 per capita federal spending in Alaska, the home state of then-Chairman Ted Stevens, was $12,000, double the national average. Alaska has 11,772 special earmarked projects for a combined cost of $15,780,623,000. This represents about four percent of the overall spending in the $388 billion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 passed by Congress.[4]

Because of the power of this committee and the fact that senators represent entire states, not just parts of states, it is considered[by whom?] extremely difficult to unseat a member of this committee at an election, especially if he or she is a subcommittee chair, or "Cardinal".[citation needed] From 2001 to 2021, every Senate Majority Leader has been a previous or concurrently-serving member of the Appropriations Committee: Tom Daschle (committee member, 1991–1999; majority leader, 2001–2003), Bill Frist (committee member, 1995–2002; majority leader, 2003–2007), Harry Reid (committee member, 1989–2006; majority leader, 2007–2015), Mitch McConnell (current committee member; majority leader, 2015–2021).

The appropriations process

Former Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV, far right) shakes hands with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates while Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT, center right) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) look on. The hearing was held to discuss further funding for the War in Iraq.
Former Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV, far right) shakes hands with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates while Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT, center right) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) look on. The hearing was held to discuss further funding for the War in Iraq.

The federal budget is divided into two main categories: discretionary spending and mandatory spending. Each appropriations subcommittee develops a draft appropriations bill covering each agency under its jurisdiction based on the Congressional Budget Resolution, which is drafted by an analogous Senate Budget committee. Each subcommittee must adhere to the spending limits set by the budget resolution and allocations set by the full Appropriations Committee, though the full Senate may vote to waive those limits if 60 senators vote to do so. The committee also reviews supplemental spending bills (covering unforeseen or emergency expenses not previously budgeted).

Each appropriations bill must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president prior to the start of the federal fiscal year, October 1. If that target is not met, as has been common in recent years, the committee drafts a continuing resolution, which is then approved by Congress and signed by the President to keep the federal government operating until the individual bills are approved.


In accordance of Rule XXV of the United States Senate, all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating to the following subjects is referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations:

  1. Appropriation of the revenue for the support of the Government, except as provided in subparagraph (e);
  2. Rescission of appropriations contained in appropriation Acts (referred to in section 105 of title 1, United States Code);
  3. The amount of new spending authority described in section 401(c)(2) (A) and (B) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 which is to be effective for a fiscal year; and,
  4. New spending authority described in section 401(c)(2)(C) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 provided in bills and resolutions referred to the committee under section 401(b)(2) of that Act (but subject to the provisions of section 401(b)(3) of that Act).[1]

Likewise, Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, clearly vesting the power of the purse in Congress, states: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law...and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”[1] This clause is the foundation for the congressional appropriations process and the fundamental source of the Senate Appropriations Committee's institutional power - as is the same with its counterpart in the lower house.[2] In other words, Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution charges the United States Congress with the legislative duty of controlling government spending separate from the executive branch of government - a significant check and balance in the American constitutional system.[3]

Members, 117th Congress

Main article: 117th United States Congress

January 3, 2021 to present.

Majority Minority


Subcommittee[4] Chair Ranking Member
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) John Hoeven (R-ND)
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Defense Jon Tester (D-MT) Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Energy and Water Development Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) John Kennedy (R-LA)
Financial Services and General Government Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Homeland Security Chris Murphy (D-CT) Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Patty Murray (D-WA) Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Legislative Branch Jack Reed (D-RI) Mike Braun (R-IN)
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Martin Heinrich (D-NM) John Boozman (R-AR)
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Chris Coons (D-DE) Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Brian Schatz (D-HI) Susan Collins (R-ME)

Committee reorganization during the 110th Congress

At the outset of the 110th Congress, Chairman Robert Byrd and Chairman Dave Obey, his counterpart on the House Appropriations Committee, developed a committee reorganization plan that provided for common subcommittee structures between both houses, a move that both the chairmen hope will allow Congress to "complete action on each of the government funding on time for the first time since 1994."[5][6] The subcommittees were last overhauled between the 107th and 108th Congresses, after the creation of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security and again during the 109th Congress, when the number of subcommittees was reduced from 13 to 12.

A key part of the new subcommittee organization was the establishment of a new Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which consolidates funding for the Treasury Department, the United States federal judiciary, and the District of Columbia. These functions were previously handled by two separate Senate subcommittees.

Chairs, 1867–present

Name Party State Years
Lot Morrill Republican Maine 1867–1869
William Pitt Fessenden Republican Maine 1869
Lot Morrill Republican Maine 1869–1871
Cornelius Cole Republican California 1871–1873
Lot Morrill Republican Maine 1873–1876
William Windom Republican Minnesota 1876–1879
Henry Davis Democratic West Virginia 1879–1881
William Allison Republican Iowa 1881–1893
Francis Cockrell Democratic Missouri 1893–1895
William Allison Republican Iowa 1895–1908
Eugene Hale Republican Maine 1908–1911
Francis E. Warren Republican Wyoming 1911–1913
Thomas S. Martin Democratic Virginia 1913–1919
Francis E. Warren Republican Wyoming 1919–1929[5]
Wesley L. Jones Republican Washington 1929–1932[6]
Frederick Hale Republican Maine 1932–1933
Carter Glass Democratic Virginia 1933–1946[7]
Kenneth McKellar Democratic Tennessee 1946–1947
Styles Bridges Republican New Hampshire 1947–1949
Kenneth McKellar Democratic Tennessee 1949–1953
Styles Bridges Republican New Hampshire 1953–1955
Carl Hayden Democratic Arizona 1955–1969
Richard B. Russell Democratic Georgia 1969–1971
Allen J. Ellender Democratic Louisiana 1971–1972
John L. McClellan Democratic Arkansas 1972–1977
Warren G. Magnuson Democratic Washington 1977–1981
Mark O. Hatfield Republican Oregon 1981–1987
John C. Stennis Democratic Mississippi 1987–1989
Robert C. Byrd Democratic West Virginia 1989–1995
Mark O. Hatfield Republican Oregon 1995–1997
Ted Stevens Republican Alaska 1997–2001
Robert C. Byrd Democratic West Virginia 2001[8]
Ted Stevens Republican Alaska 2001
Robert C. Byrd Democratic West Virginia 2001–2003[9]
Ted Stevens Republican Alaska 2003–2005
Thad Cochran Republican Mississippi 2005–2007
Robert C. Byrd Democratic West Virginia 2007–2009
Daniel K. Inouye Democratic Hawaii 2009–2012
Barbara Mikulski Democratic Maryland 2012–2015
Thad Cochran Republican Mississippi 2015–2018
Richard Shelby Republican Alabama 2018–2021
Patrick Leahy Democratic Vermont 2021–present

Historical membership rosters

116th Congress

Main article: 116th United States Congress

Majority Minority

115th Congress

Majority Minority

Source :"U.S. Senate: Committee on Appropriations". Retrieved April 11, 2018.

114th Congress

Majority Minority

Source: 2013 Congressional Record, Vol. 159, Page S296

113th Congress

Majority Minority


112th Congress

Majority Minority

111th Congress

Majority Minority

110th Congress

Majority Minority

109th Congress

Majority Minority

See also


  1. ^ a b McGowan, Matthew (2008). "Senate Manual of the United States Senate" (PDF). United States Senate. pp. 26–27. Retrieved May 31, 2019. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Stith, Kate. "Article I, Section 9, Clause 7, United States Constitution: Appropriations Clause". National Constitution Center. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  4. ^ "Leahy, Shelby Announce Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee Rosters And Leadership For The 117th Congress". U.S. Senate: Committee on Appropriations. February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  5. ^ Died November 24, 1929.
  6. ^ Died November 19, 1932.
  7. ^ Died May 28, 1946.
  8. ^ At the beginning of the 107th Congress in January 2001 the Senate was evenly divided. With a Democratic president and vice president still serving until January 20, the Democratic vice president was available to break a tie, and the Democrats thus controlled the Senate for 17 days, from January 3 to January 20. On January 3 the Senate adopted S. Res. 7 designating Democratic senators as committee chairmen to serve during this period and Republican chairmen to serve effective at noon on January 20, 2001.
  9. ^ On June 6, 2001, the Democrats took control of the Senate after Senator James Jeffords (VT) changed from the Republican Party to Independent and announced that he would caucus with the Democrats.
  10. ^ "Committee Members | United States Senate Committee on Appropriations".
  11. ^ "U.S. Senate: Committee on Appropriations". Retrieved March 4, 2021.
^ "Overview of the Committee's role". U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Archived from the original on October 13, 2005. Retrieved October 14, 2005.
^ "Creation of the Senate Committee on Appropriations". U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Archived from the original on September 27, 2005. Retrieved October 14, 2005.
^ Courtney Mabeus. "Buying Leadership". Capital Eye. Retrieved October 14, 2005.
^ Rosenbaum, David E. (February 9, 2005). "Call it Pork or Necessity, but Alaska Comes Out Far Above the Rest in Spending". New York Times.
^ "Senate, House Appropriations Set Subcommittee Plans for New Congress". U.S. House Committee on Appropriations. Archived from the original on January 31, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2007.
^ "Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Rosters Set". National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2007.
^ "Daniel Inouye Dies". Politico. Retrieved December 18, 2012.

Further reading