Federal Appropriations

The federal government has a fiduciary responsibility to provide resources and funding for Native education, as established through numerous treaties and legal precedent based in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Due to this Constitutional provision, the federal government has a direct responsibility to fund and support the education of Native students in public and tribal schools across the country.



Each year, Congress allocates funding for federal programs through the appropriations process. Native education advocates must have a keen understanding of how Congress develops the federal budget to ensure that our students have access to resources that prepare them for success in the classroom and beyond.


The annual appropriations process begins when the President releases their budget request for the upcoming fiscal year. Through this document, the Administration outlines their funding priorities for federal agencies and programs. Find the President’s Budget Request for FY 2018 in the link to the side.


Members of Congress work together each year to craft the annual budget resolution, which includes the federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year and spending priorities for the next five years.  Once overall spending levels have been set, Congress develops budget legislation to authorize funding for federal agencies and programs each year.

The budget bills originate in subcommittees that specialize in specific issue areas within the House Committee on Appropriations. The proposed bill must then pass the appropriate subcommittee, the House Committee on Appropriations, and the full House of Representatives before repeating the process in the Senate. At each step, legislators have the opportunity to amend the bill to ensure that all programs receive the necessary support and funding for the upcoming year.

Throughout the past decade, the timeline for the appropriations process has varied from year-to-year. Despite this irregularity, the following infographic shows how Congress passes the appropriations bills during a typical year.

Unlike typical legislation, the budget resolution is not signed or vetoed by the President, leaving much of the power for federal appropriations in the hands of Congress. To find out more about the congressional appropriations process, visit the websites for the congressional committees on appropriations.


Through collaboration with tribes, members, partners, and education advocates, NIEA develops a comprehensive budget request each year that advocates for the funding necessary to support education programs for Native students.  As the budget process moves forward under the leadership of Congress, success depends on the full participation and involvement of advocates and officials at all levels of government.  The resulting document provides critical guidance for Congressional leaders and Administration officials as they allocate funding for key Native education programs.

As Congress continues to develop appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, it is critical that the recommendations outlined in NIEA’s FY 2019 Budget Request are enacted. Such funding ensures that Native students have access to the necessary support for college, career, and community success. NIEA urges Congress to fulfill its trust responsibility to America’s most vulnerable children by ensuring they have the access to educational resources that they deserve.

The NIEA Budget Request and Appropriations Testimony are documents that currently exist on this page.