Congressional Control of Federal Spending

Congressional Control of Federal Spending

Congressional Control of Federal Spending

Congressional Control of Federal Spending

Excerpt

George Galloway has estimated that probably nine-tenths of the work of Congress is concerned with spending issues. Yet despite voluminous and numerous studies of Congress, the treatments received by this subject in recent years may be found only in isolated chapters, historical monographs or specialized case studies. The exercise by Congress of its vital power of the purse, characterized by Alexander Hamilton as a "most complete and effective weapon," would seem to warrant thorough and comprehensive consideration. Certainly I wished that there had been such a book ten years ago, when, as a research assistant to Senator Paul H. Douglas of Illinois, I felt my way through the maze of the appropriations process. Senator Douglas was determined to cut the budget in the most painless way possible, and an understanding of the process would have been most helpful. It is hoped that this book will prove useful to other congressional staff members and also to scholars and executive agency personnel who would like more light on the subject.

This book has been written on the basis of my observation and participation in the appropriations process, my review of the available literature in the field, my Ph.D. dissertation, and three case studies: an intensive review of Senator Douglas' numerous efforts to cut the budget during the period 1949-51; a review of congressional consideration of virtually all items included in all the regular appropriations bills which authorized funds for the fiscal year 1952-53; and an analysis of a budget in transition --President Truman's appropriations requests for the fiscal year 1953-54, their revision by the newly elected Eisenhower Administration, and enactment by the 1st Session of the 83d Congress.

I am deeply indebted to numerous persons for help, advice, and inspiration, including the staffs of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago, the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress, the Office of Senator Douglas, and the U. S. Senate Committees on Banking and Currency and Appropriations. I am especially grateful to Professor Charles M. Hardin of the University of Chicago for reading the manuscript and making numerous constructive suggestions.

R.A.W.

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