Government without Passing Laws: Congress' Nonstatutory Techniques for Appropriations Control

By Michael W. Kirst | Go to book overview

II. Interaction of the Stages of the Appropriations Process

Each of the nine stages of the appropriations process is utilized for nonstatutory control (including four separate floor debates and three reports). In fact, it is possible for a nonstatutory instruction to be initiated or modified to some degree by every stage, and consequently, the final instruction may be a product of just one or at the most even nine stages. It is the administrator's task to analyse Congressional action at several stages before making a decision on what course to follow. As we shall see later, his decision is based partly on Congressional intent and partly on his own goals. In order to understand how nonstatutory guidance works, we must realize at the outset that the technique is much more complicated than a bald statement in one committee report or a paragraph of statutory language. This complexity and ambiguity give rise to delicate problems of enforcement for the subcommittees and of compliance for the administrative agencies.


NONSTATUTORY CONTROL BY APPROPRIATIONS HEARINGS

The main function of subcommittee hearings is usually to provide information upon which subsequent committee action is based.1 However, interspersed with this investigative function, the appropriations hearings provide a continual opportunity for nonstatutory direction and regulation. The appropriations hearings may be concerned with anything from trivial details to basic policy, so consequently the 1,000 or more pages of hearings per year on each appropriations bill contain

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1
George Galloway, Congress at the Crossroads ( New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1946), pp. 247-49.

-23-

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