Discretionary spending is the amount of spending which Congress debates and authorizes for each fiscal year. Approximately one-third of the total federal budget represents discretionary spending; the remainder is mandatory spending.
A federal budgetary terms that refers to any funds whose distribution in not automatic. Discretionary spending encompasses programs controlled by annual appropriations bills and is subject to the constraints imposed by the discretionary spending limits set in the balanced budget law.
Funding that must be appropriated each year.
Spending for programs that the President and Congress must decide to fund each fiscal year through annual appropriations bills.
The money the President and Congress must decide to spend each year; a.k.a., outlays controllable through the congressional appropriation process. Includes money for such programs as the FBI and the Coast Guard, housing and education, space exploration and highway construction, and defense and foreign aid. Discretionary spending in the President's proposed fiscal 1997 budget accounts for 33 percent of all federal spending. National defense spending accounts for about 50 percent of total discretionary spending.
Spending (budget authority and outlays) controlled in annual appropriations acts.
Spending controlled in annual appropriations acts (not entitlement spending.)
Budget authority provided in appropriation acts, except that provided to fund direct spending programs. See appropriation act; compare with direct spending.
Spending that can be raised, lowered, kept even or eliminated by the Congress as it sees fit.
Outlays controllable through the congressional appropriation process. Such outlays result from the provision of budgetary resources (including appropriations and obligation limitations but excluding mandatory spending authority) in appropriation acts. The Budget Enforcement Act establishes annual spending limitations or caps on discretionary appropriations and resulting outlays.
Discretionary spending represents a householdâ€™s capacity to spend on good and services beyond food, clothing, shelter, transportation, healthcare, personal care, etc. It is often a better measure than traditional household income of a householdâ€™s capacity to spend on discretionary goods and services. ( Back to the top)
Discretionary spending is what the president and Congress must decide to spend for the next fiscal year through 13 annual appropriations bills. Examples include money for such activities as the FBI and the Coast Guard, housing and education, space exploration and highway construction, and defense and foreign aid.
Spending for programs whose funding levels are determined through the appropriation process. The Congress has the discretion each year to determine how many dollars will be devoted to continuing current programs and funding new ones. Compare with direct spending.
Spending on programs that Congress can finance as it chooses through appropriations. Most of the apparatus of the federal government and almost everything the government does except to pay entitlement benefits to individuals is financed by discretionary spending. Examples include all federal agencies, Congress, the White House, the courts, the military and activities from space exploration to child nutrition. About a third of all federal spending falls into this category. 8
Appropriations that are set annually by Congress and are not limited to specific minimum levels. This includes defense spending and many domestic programs, including NIH.
Spending for programs whose funding levels are determined and controlled in annual appropriation acts. See appropriation act; compare with direct spending.