Discretionary vs. Mandatory Spending

The Appropriations Committee writes 12 annual appropriations bills that provide approximately 30% of federal spending for a fiscal year.  This funding is called discretionary spending.  Nearly 70% of federal spending is controlled either by legislative committees or, like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, is on auto-pilot and does not need to be appropriated every year.  This is called direct or mandatory spending.
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