Appropriations Process History (From the Chair, Appropriations Committee)
In the early years of the Congress, a single general appropriation bill from the Ways and Means Committee met the needs of the country. The first bill, in 1789, appropriated $639,000 and covered 13 lines of the printed statutes. Five years later, in 1794, the Army was supplied in a separate bill, then the Navy in 1799. This trend continued until in 1865, there were 10 bills passed over to the new Committee on Appropriations, not including deficiency bills. For fiscal year 1997, 13 appropriations bills have provided a total of $794.9 billion. Until recent years, large sustained spending increases of the Federal Government usually occurred only in connection with wars. For several years prior to the Civil War, Federal expenditures averaged $60,000,000 annually. By the peak of the war, in fiscal year 1865, expenditures amounted to $1,297,555,224. The year following the war - fiscal year 1866 - spending was reduced to $520,809,417.