Discretionary Spending

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  • There are two types of spending authorized by the U.S. Congress. These are dis cretionary spending and mandatory spending. The level of discretionary spending is controlled by appropriation bills that are passed by Congress on an annual basis. Mandatory spending is authorized by permanent law and does not require an annual appropriation. Discretionary spending now accounts for close to 40% of the federal budget each year. Of this, about half goes to the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and other security-related spending. The other half of discretionary spending funds domestic spending by several depart ments, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.

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