In public finance, discretionary spending is government spending implemented through an appropriations bill. This spending is an part of fiscal policy, in contrast to entitlement programs for which funding is mandatory. In the United States, discretionary spending refers to spending set on a basis by decision of Congress. Such spending is usually authorized by Congress in another act, provisions of an appropriations act that authorize spending are earmarks. When an authorization act also appropriates funds, it is called mandatory spending
Graph of U.S. mandatory and discretionary spending from 1966 to 2015. Mandatory spending levels start to diverge from discretionary spending levels in the early 1990s.
Comparison of U.S. discretionary spending on defense and nondefense.