Home > Terms > English (EN) > authorization bill

authorization bill

A (proposed) formal act (or “law”) of a legislative body (such as the U.S. Congress or a state legislature) that legally establishes a new government agency or program or else renews or extends an existing agency or program whose previous legal authorization to exist would otherwise expire with the passage of time. Authorizations may be for one year or more than one year — about one-half of current Federal spending is by agencies or programs subject to annual re-authorization, while the other half gets its legal basis either from longer term authorization bills or from permanent laws that provide spending authority automatically to ongoing entitlement programs like Social Security. Authorization bills also include specific figures as funding levels for the agencies and programs, but these sums are upper limits only (for the guidance of the appropriations committee) — no money can actually be spent or committed by the agency or program administrators until after a separate appropriation bill has also been passed and signed into law, legally enabling the Treasury to disburse the money. The amount of money eventually appropriated for an agency or program is most often less than the amount previously authorized, so an authorization bill is rather like a necessary “hunting license” for an appropriation rather than a guarantee. No appropriation can be made for an unauthorized program, but even an authorized program may still die or be unable to perform all its assigned functions for lack of a sufficiently large appropriation of funds. This often happens in the decentralized American political system, because authorization bills are each drafted by one of the many specialized standing committees in Congress (the Agriculture Committee, the Armed Forces Committee, etc. — who tend to be cheerleaders for “their” pet agencies), while appropriation bills are drafted by the different set of lawmakers who serve on the specialized subcommittees of the Appropriations committees in the two chambers (who still have to get their funding choices through the full Appropriations committee, which is responsible for weighing the relative merits and urgency of all the different programs against each other before dividing up the budget pie).

Collect to Blossary

Member comments

You have to log in to post to discussions.

Terms in the News

Billy Morgan

Sports; Snowboarding

The British snowboarder Billy Morgan has landed the sport’s first ever 1800 quadruple cork. The rider, who represented Great Britain in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, was in Livigno, Italy, when he achieved the man-oeuvre. It involves flipping four times, while body also spins with five complete rotations on a sideways or downward-facing axis. The trick ...

Marzieh Afkham

Broadcasting & receiving; News

Marzieh Afkham, who is the country’s first foreign ministry spokeswoman, will head a mission in east Asia, the state news agency reported. It is not clear to which country she will be posted as her appointment has yet to be announced officially. Afkham will only be the second female ambassador Iran has had. Under the last shah’s rule, Mehrangiz Dolatshahi, a ...

Weekly Packet

Language; Online services; Slang; Internet

Weekly Packet or "Paquete Semanal" as it is known in Cuba is a term used by Cubans to describe the information that is gathered from the internet outside of Cuba and saved onto hard drives to be transported into Cuba itself. Weekly Packets are then sold to Cuban's without internet access, allowing them to obtain information just days - and sometimes hours - after it ...

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Banking; Investment banking

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution established to address the need in Asia for infrastructure development. According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia needs $800 billion each year for roads, ports, power plants or other infrastructure projects before 2020. Originally proposed by China in 2013, a signing ...


Online services; Internet

Spartan is the codename given to the new Microsoft Windows 10 browser that will replace Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer. The new browser will be built from the ground up and disregard any code from the IE platform. It has a new rendering engine that is built to be compatible with how the web is written today. The name Spartan is named after the ...

Featured Terms

  • 1635


  • 95


  • 13


Industry/Domain: Beverages Category: Wine

Barefoot Cellars

Barefoot Wine is a brand of wine produced by Barefoot Cellars which is based in Modesto, California. Barefoot produces 17 unique varietals and blends: ...

Featured blossaries


Category: Education   1 1 Terms

Beijing Life

Category: Entertainment   1 1 Terms