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Making the Most of the Budget Hearing Season

Every year, Department heads testify in front of appropriations and authorizing committees on their proposed budgets. These hearings are a rare opportunity to hear both the agency priorities and committee members’ focus on a wide range of topics.

As organizations navigate the flurry of budget hearings, here are a few points to consider to ensure your organization is making the most of FY25 budget season:

Questions are the hottest ticket in town: Organizations who cover every issue in an agency’s jurisdiction are clamoring to have a question asked that highlights their priority. In order to get a question asked, congressional offices must be aligned on the topic and feel that there is a sound objective in the answer. While, oftentimes, the back and forth is quick with minimal nuance around the issue, it elevates the issue as a priority both for the agency and other committee members. Another option for organizations is to ask a question for the record, which is a written follow up from the committee to the agency testifying.

This is the time for education: Ahead of a budget hearing, an organization could send an issue overview to committee offices. Whether this is an issue where offices have deep expertise or a niche issue, it is a well-timed opportunity to reshare one-pagers and issue overviews.

Acting on agency commitments (or lack thereof): If an organization’s top priority is mentioned during a hearing with a commitment from agency leadership to act on the issue, this is a chance for an organization to work on a plan of action with congressional champions and aligned stakeholders. If the answer leaves much to be desired, this is an opportunity for appropriations report language or a congressional letter to the agency.

Ultimately, this is a chance to educate the decision makers on why an issue matters and how additional funding will move the policy priority forward. While it’s easy to get lost in the swirl of the many committee hearings happening every day, now is the time to educate, lean on congressional champions, and act on your policy strategy.


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